SINAI, Egypt: Parents and students in North Sinai voiced concerns over the start of the school year, planned for Saturday, amid a tenuous security situation that has terrorized the governorate since the ouster of Former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3.
Governor Abdel Fatah Harhour has insisted that schools open on time despite continued armed attacks on security forces’ headquarters and checkpoints in the peninsula. However, residents of the area complain that authorities cannot guarantee regularity of the school day under these circumstances.
The imposed curfew in the governorate, which starts at 4 pm and ends at 6 am, is one of many obstacles that may hinder the schools of North Sinai, as well as the completely absence of security on the roads and the location of some schools in the vicinity of military operations.
Ahmed Musalm, one of the parents from Sheikh Zuweid, said “We are surprised by the announcement of staring the school year on time and we were expecting it to be delayed until the hard times in our region end.”
Musalm added, “How will the teachers be able to travel safely from Arish to our area, then return to their houses at the end of the day amid all these obstacles?”
Elementary teacher Omar Ahmed, who lives in Arish, said that he and other teachers need to commute every day from Arish to their work places in Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah. And although the ride would normally take an hour, this year there is a lack of public transportation in the area.
“It takes over two hours under these circumstances due to the closure of portions of the road, in addition to the increased price of public transport from 2 EGP to 10 EGP,” Ahmed added. “No one can ensure their safety while walking on the road.”
Another teacher, Lobna el-Sayid, agreed . “We are confused,” she said, “How can we make it to remote schools under these circumstances?”
A Facebook page for teachers in central Sinai said that teachers will start a strike at the beginning of the school year to protest the difficulty of getting to these schools, which are mostly located in isolated, mountainous areas.