Remedial Worksheets Make up for Lost School Days in Hebron
By Wafa Obeidat
HEBRON, 15 April 2005 - Our trip to Yaccoubiyyeh Elementary School in the old city of Hebron ended up bypassing the main streets of Hebron, using hilly dirt roads instead. The Israeli army denied us access to the restricted area. As we walked up the 22 steep steps leading to the school, we could see the Israeli military outpost situated opposite the 100-year-old school building.
“This project started in Hebron 3 years ago and we are very proud that it got expanded all over Palestine,” said schoolteacher Ms. Ikram, referring to the Remedial Education project provided by UNICEF in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE)
Ms. Ikram walked us through the second floor of the school to enter the 4th grade classroom. Twenty young girls, aged 9-10 years, greeted us singing Ahla Wou Sahla Fikom Fi Madrasetna - meaning “Welcome to our school.”
Remedial worksheets were spread all over their tiny desks and their teacher Ms. Raeda was giving them a science class on living and inanimate beings.
“Akrab is one of the living beings - meaning scorpion,” said Samaher, a 10 year old girl, who was joyfully listening to her teacher discuss the differences between the various living beings. Twenty girls raised their hands until Soujoud was asked to respond. Soujoud is apparently the second in class and is Samaher’s best friend. “Living beings grow and have babies while inanimate beings don’t,” she said.
“These worksheets are fun and very colorful,” said Samaher. “I have been using them since the second grade.”
Added Soujoud: “I like these worksheets because they are easy to use and I can get high grades.”
Samaher, whose mother is an Arabic Language teacher in a nearby school continued: “When I grow up, I would like to be a teacher like my mom”.
Soujoud added: “I want to become an Arabic Language Teacher because I like Arabic.”
Samaher is the youngest girl in her family, and has three older brothers and one older sister. “I visited Yaffa where my mother’s family originally comes from. I’d love to live there, on the beach to be able to swim and see the fish.”
Her friend Soujoud said: “I have never been out of Palestine, I would love to go and visit America to tell the girls my age what we go through in trying to come to school. I also want them to come and see how we are living.”
Soujoud says she was denied access to school on many occasions and she lost at least a handful of school days during this school year as a result of curfews imposed on the old city of Hebron. But the remedial education worksheets helped Soujoud maintain her high grades in class and to maintain the second in class. “My dream is to live in peace like all children of the world. I want to go to school without being stopped and fetched or even asked to go home.”
Said schoolteacher Ms Raeda: “These worksheets provide children with analytical skills and enable them to think more critically. It also strengthens the relationship between the school and the family, as family members becomes more involved with teaching their children.”
The remedial education project originally started as a community initiative out of Hebron as a response to the continuous closures. After its successful implementation in Hebron, the project was expanded to include all curfew and closure prone areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In Hebron alone, the project reaches almost all children in Grade One to Six. It enables children to continue learning even when not being able to reach school. This project was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Ms. Obeidat is the UNICEF zonal officer in Hebron