On 17 June 2020, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) issued a decision preventing male and female students from leaving Idlib to regime-held areas in Hama to sit for their final exams, scheduled on 21 June 2020. That decision impacted more than 200 students, some of whom turned to labor work, while others became isolated and depressed.
Reportedly, when students tried to leave Idlib to take their exams in the village of al-Trenbah near the city of Saraqib, HTS members started shooting in the air and beating them with hands and sticks.
Further, two students confirmed being detained for hours by HTS during which they were beaten with sticks and plastic hoses and had their heads shaved in a humiliating way, while others said that they had their exam cards confiscated for expressing objection to HTS’ decision.
Not only HTS, the Directorate of Education of the Syrian Interim Government – operates under the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces – also prevented over 1.000 primary and secondary students from accessing regime-held areas to sit their final exams through the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army’s (SNA) checkpoints in northern and western rural Aleppo, which led some students to take clandestine and circuitous routes to reach government areas.
In the same vein, the Interim Government’s Directorate of Education in Aleppo passed other arbitrary decisions, as in July 2020 it issued a circular calling for the dismissal of male and female workers who sent their sons to sit their exams in regime-held areas in 2020. Accordingly, more than 50 teachers and workers in the educational sector were fired for violating the circular under two decisions issued successively by the Directorate of Education in Aleppo in August and July 2020.
In a statement issued on 19 June 2020, the United Nations said:
“Up to 23.000 students, mostly from the northeast but also from the northwest, are expected to travel across conflict lines to government areas to sit the exams scheduled to begin in two days, on 21 June. They will join some 250.000 students across the country sitting these examinations… In at least two incidents, members of non-state armed groups have denied dozens of students’ safe transit through checkpoints in Idlib and Aleppo governorates while on their way to examination centers”.
For its part, the Ministry of Education of the Syrian Interim Government, justified preventing its students from going to regime-held areas as being for their own safety citing that they would be arrested, threatened, blackmailed or terrorized by the Syrian Army.
In the present report, we will cite 12 statements; ten from students who were denied sitting their final exams, a teacher who was dismissed for violating the Education Directorate circular of July 2020 and a driver of one of the buses carrying the students from Idlib. The interviews were conducted online and in person between September and late October 2020.
 “UN calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to facilitate safe passage for students to sit their final examinations”, UN, 19 June 2020, https://news.un.org/ar/story/2020/06/1056892 (Last visited: 30 October 2020).
 “The Syrian opposition attacks the UN statement on Syrian students’ exams”, Syria TV website, 21 June 2020, https://www.syria.tv/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B6%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AC%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%85%D9%85%D9%8A-%D8%AD%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%A9-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7 (last visit: 30 October 2020).