Voices of Children

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Music is a Dream Come True

© UNICEF-OPT/2005/SHAO POTUNG
Mohammed playing the Oud in school

By Monica Awad

NABLUS, 5 April 2005 - For Mohammed, a tiny nine-year-old boy from Nablus, playing the Oud is a dream come true. “Music provides people with tranquility and calm.  It teaches children how to respect others and provides them with sense of responsibility,” said the music teacher.

Sitting on a chair with his feet barely reaching the floor, holding his tiny Oud played classical Arabic songs, he says: “I love music and enjoy playing the Oud like my grandmother used to do.”

Mohammed is in Grade Four at Bastmani School in Nablus.  He achieved the rank of the first in his class so his parents rewarded him with his favorite musical instrument – the Oud.  “My mom bought me this Oud from Jordan because we could not find a small one in Palestine,” said Mohammed.  At US$80, the gift represents a fortune for the average Palestinian family.

Mohammed likes to play songs of the famous Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez.  “When I grow up, I want to become like Abdel Halim Hafez. I want to show my grandmother that I can play the Oud even better than she does.”

Mays, a 16-year-old from Nablus, also enjoys music. “I would like to become a famous musician when I grow up,” said Mays, with her long straight silky black hair, holding the violin with grace and pride. ”I want to study music at Al-Najah University when I complete high school,” said Mays who is currently in Grade 11 in Al-Salahiyyeh school in the Nablus area.

Samir is their music teacher – instructing them in music theory as well as hands on. “Music provides people with tranquility and calm.  It teaches children how to respect others and provides them with sense of responsibility,” said the music teacher.  Apparently, many music teachers in oPt have asked the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) for the means to teach students music, but due to limited resources and the many pressing priorities, it was not feasible.

This is the first project of its kind implemented by the MoEHE and will be carried out throughout the school year as part of the extracurricular activities.  “I feel proud when I see students like Mohammed and Mays keen on learning music,” said Samir.  “It is through music that Palestinian children can bring them joy.”

The project in the Jenin and Nablus areas aims at reaching more than 150 children of various ages – providing knowledge and skills to play music, to sing and even to act.  It is a pilot project that could be expanded throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  This project provides children with the needed skills in music and drama, and it is a means for children’s empowerment and a tool for making their voices heard to the world. UNICEF provided the needed support and supplies to the MoEHE to implement the project – with the financial contribution of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

 

 
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