Major Area: Basic Education and Gender Equality
The lack of teaching facilities and overcrowded classrooms has generated direct negative impact on learning achievement – this has been most apparent and alarming in the subjects of Arabic, mathematics and science, with alarming low marks in these subjects. To compound matters, a recent survey shows that in a few years, there will be few qualified candidate as teachers for math and science subjects for higher education in Palestine. To address this situation, UNICEF is supporting an education project in Palestine that seeks to improve both the quality and content of education.
An Education project supported by UNICEF has developed and provided a set of math and science teaching kits to some 500 government schools covering over 170,000 children. The 500 schools represent about 37% of all government schools in Occupied Palestinian Territory. Most of these schools were located in the hard-to-reach areas and often are considered as marginalized. Utilization of the kits has not only partially filled in the gap of education supplies but also stimulated enthusiasm for studying science and mathematics and in the end helped to improve the quality of learning by students.
The Ministry of Education has indicated that it would like to make it a national project based on the positive feedback received on the utilization of both kits. Through UNICEF, the Ministry of Education in Lebanon and Syria have adopted the idea and also started to utilize the kits. The design of both Science and Math kits tries to meet educational needs during emergency, post-crisis or early recovery situations as well as in regular classroom teaching. Although only School-in-a-Box and Recreation kits are standard education pre-packed materials for emergency response, both Math and Science kits have the potential to become standard or complementary items to the School-in-a-Box kit.
In addition to over-crowded classrooms and poor quality teaching, most primary schools in Gaza still follow chalk-and-talk teaching patterns. A new national school curriculum has been developed . However, there has been little follow up as to the success of the curriculum and whether it is suitable for the students. The import of necessary school equipment to Gaza also remains a constant challenge. The lack of teaching facilities and overcrowded classrooms has generated direct negative impact on learning achievement. This has been most apparent and alarming in the subjects of Arabic, mathematics and science, with students attaining low marks in these subjects. To compound matters, a recent survey shows that in a few years, there will be a lack of qualified candidates as teachers for math and science subjects for higher education in Palestine.
The project has been implemented over a very short period of time to meet a pressing demand. The training should be done in a more systematic manner to ensure better understanding of the utilization of the kits.
The project aims to:
According to the latest evaluation completed by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) in May 2008, the quality and frequency of using the Math and Science kits by the teachers and students in those schools is rated as 85%. The evaluation concluded that teachers’ performance increased, teaching hours became more efficient, and the learners became more active and participatory in the teaching and learning process. An overall plan for the use of the kits needs to be determined (evaluation, monitoring, training, phase out).
Over 170,000 children in 500 government schools are currently utilizing the kits. About 1,000 teachers have been trained on the utilization of the kits. A Teacher's Guide and a Training Manual have been produced in Arabic. The project is ongoing, general feedback from the early users is very positive.
The revision of the Teachers’ Guide and Training Manual has been recently undertaken by the experts group. A preliminary evaluation on the utilization of the kits was completed by the MOEHE in May 2008 and more systematic evaluation of the project will be considered in 2010.