By Yousef M. Aljamal – Gaza
Tens of thousands of Palestinian students in Gaza are studying for their final exams at school, yet the limited amount of electricity in Gaza makes it difficult for them to adapt. Electricity outages, sometimes for more than 12 hours per day, leave these students with no other option except to seek alternatives to solve this problem. With the temperature rising, and electricity cut, temper of students flare as well. The Palestine Chronicle spoke to some of these students to get an idea of how it feels to study under these circumstances.
“It gets dark after 5 pm, and there is no way to study without lights,” said Yara Eid, a 16-year old high school student from Alburij refugee camp. “The weather is really hot these days and we need electricity to run the fans, to cool down,” she added. “We develop eye problems because of the lack of electricity and the reliance on alternative lights. I am confined to certain times to study, such as during the day. It is really bad,” she continued. “Not all families can afford to purchase alternative lights, and the whole situation here makes it difficult for students to study; we are not in the mood to do so.”
The Ministry of Education in Palestine announced that the high school examinations for this year would start on May 28 and end on June 15. This time of the year is stressful for many students and their families, as this year determines the futures of many students.
Dina Tahrawi, 17, from Alnusierat refugee camp, believes that electricity outages in Gaza affect the academic achievements of students. “Sometimes, I use the light of my cell-phone to study, because I feel worried that I might not finish all the material. The situation is unbearable and it has to come to an end,” Dina told the Palestine Chronicle.
Literacy rates in Gaza are the highest worldwide. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, “The literacy rates reached 94.9 percent for females compared to 98.5 percent for males in 2015.” The high literacy rates are attributed to the interest in education of Palestinians and the almost free basic education system in Palestine.
Sarah Almaqadima, 17, a high school student expressed her anger at the ongoing electricity crisis: “I had to reschedule my sleep hours so that I wake up when electricity is on to study. I could not contact my teachers via the internet while studying to ask them about things I don’t understand well,” she said.
Will Gaza students still have a bright future if they continue to study in the dark? Those responsible for the electricity outages crisis need to provide an answer.
– Yousef M. Aljamal is the Palestine Chronicle Correspondent in the Gaza Strip.