At the first light of dawn there is already a scorching heat and it is not good news for Miral Al Qudraa, who today will have to take the baccalaureate exam together with all the high school students in Gaza. But this year the final test is even more difficult than previous years.
Even more complex than last year, when students had to divide into small groups to stay spaced, wearing masks due to the pandemic. Today the graduates of the Strip have to take the final exams in bombed schools, without electricity and without even fans. Even water is scarce these days and between the heat and tension, the boys will have to stay very focused. Pen, pencil and go.
During the weeks of the lockdown, schools remained closed and not all students in Gaza were able to follow the lessons remotely. Partly because the electricity was in fits and starts, partly because many did not have a computer available, or had one, but not all the time, because there was shifts with brothers and sisters.
The school program, therefore, was carried out with great difficulty. Then, when the lessons returned to the presence, hostilities began and in May the carpet bombing by the Israeli air force began. In eleven days, 130 schools across the Strip were destroyed or damaged and those that remained standing were used, and are still used as emergency shelters for those who have lost their homes. The organization of this maturity 2021 was, therefore, a real challenge for teachers and school coordinators.
“First of all we had to reunite the children in the classrooms that were not destroyed – explains Nadia Beshawy, one of the school coordinators – and the groups are more numerous than we would have preferred, but there is no other solution, even if we have also tried to keep our distance. for health safety. And then – says Nadia – we have tried to rationalize the use of electricity to guarantee the children a minimum of breathing space with the fans, but unfortunately I fear that it will not last and therefore we will not have energy or even internet ”. But there is no solution, the exam must be completed.
“It’s called Tawjihi – says the student Miral – and divided into two parts, one is dedicated to art and reading, the other is dedicated to science and mathematics. Based on the score, you decide whether to go to university and which faculty. However, my classmates and I have not yet decided whether we will continue our studies “.
According to a very recent survey by the Gaza school coordination, a very high percentage of graduates this year has not yet decided whether to enroll in university. To weigh on the indecision there were the enormous difficulties of the last year and a half due to the pandemic from Covid-19 and then also the last war that has devastated the entire territory of Gaza considerably. “To the already low morale of the students – explains Nadia Beshawy – was added the depression for what happened in the 11 days of war in May. Many families have also lost what little they had and now the children feel obliged to contribute to the family, without spending money on their studies, rather by working for the community ”. Even the eighteen-year-old Abdallah last night, a few hours after the exam, said he was discouraged, that he had no interest in studying. “If this is my life, it makes no sense to be in the books. There is no future for us Palestinians, especially here in Gaza, ”he says.
Following the dissemination of the data from this internal survey among the students, three schools in particular decided to cooperate to implement a strategy. And so, already at the end of today’s exam, some psychologists and psychologists will be able to talk to the boys to understand what the mood is and what they really want for their future. “Not studying is exactly what kids shouldn’t do right now” – admits coordinator Beshawy. “Education makes them aware, frees them, frees them from the traps of ideologism and allows them to have a future: a future for them outside Gaza and a future for us too who will continue to live in this open-air prison” .