THE WORST OF EXAM TIMES: As more than 300,000 Syrian middle school students began the first day of their final exams on Sunday, those in regime-blockaded Moadimiyet a-Sham were bused to testing sites in Damascus because the government refused to administer tests in the Damascene suburb, a local activist told Syria Direct.
The bussing plan was in keeping with a previous agreement between the local negotiation committee and the governor, said Wasi Ahmed, an activist with the opposition Local Council of Moadimiyet.
Moadimiyet a-Sham, under the control of rebel forces, has been repeatedly blockaded by the regime and subjected to a particularly harsh siege since February.
Pictures of well supplied, organized testing sites published by Syrian state-run news agency SANA contrasted with an education official’s account of the state of education in rebel-controlled Idlib province.
“If there isn’t a school in one of Idlib’s neighborhoods, we put students in civilian homes or sometimes caves where they study and take their tests,” Jamal al-Shahoud, the Director of Education in the Free Province of Idlib, told Syria Direct.
“We have had to reduce the number of hours spent in schools…in order to limit the time that students are gathered together in class and dismiss them before the planes arrive.”