Tawjihi — the General Secondary Certificate Examination in the Palestinian Territories and Jordan — is like the SATs, only bigger. For their entire education experience, students are prepped for the entrance exam, which determines the entire track of their higher education — whether they can study medicine, engineering, or a less-desired field.
The results were released this week, but 18 students from Gaza weren’t around to receive their scores. They were among the 200-plus deaths in the ongoing humanitarian crisis, killed by Israeli airstrikes, Ma’an News Agency reported on their Arabic language website.
The release of the test scores is usually met with parties, fireworks and gifts. But due to the crisis in Gaza, even the student with the best exam scores canceled his celebration.
Ibrahim al-Faqeh, from the West Bank city of Habron, who achieved a record 99.8 percent on his exam, instead decided to celebrate in silence, Alray Palestinian Media Agency reported.
“Our brothers in Gaza are facing death at the hands of the occupation, and that's what prompted me to agree with the family not to set off fireworks and make a hustle and bustle,” Ibrahim told Safa Press, according to Alray.
More than 85,000 Palestinian students from Gaza and the West Bank took the Tawjihi exam this year.
The deaths of the students are only the latest casualties in Palestinian youths' struggle to succeed.
With Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories, students hoping to study abroad, including in the United States and Europe, are often barred from traveling outside Gaza. In many cases, those students are able to secure admission from the university and scholarships, only to be told their permit request was rejected. Israel has often even barred Palestinian students in Gaza from studying in the West Bank.
Gaza’s 1.7 million residents’ median age is 18; around the age students take the Tawjihi exam. Their future is intricately intertwined with their ability to educate this generation.