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At a glance: State of Palestine

Remedial education helps millions of Palestinian children

© UNICEF video
A student in Azzun Atma in the West Bank opens a file of remedial worksheets supplied by UNICEF that will help her study at home.

By Anna Ceraldi

AZZUN ATMA, Occupied Palestinian Territory, 16 February 2006 – Education is a daily struggle in the remote northern West Bank village of Azzun Atma where there is only one school. UNICEF is supporting a project that trains teachers and parents throughout the West Bank and Gaza to help students study on their own or at home with remedial worksheets.

Azzun Atma is home to 1,000 Palestinians, many of them children. The school serves nearly 400 students from the village and surrounding areas.

Inside the school grounds, the space is clean and orderly. Colourful collages decorate the halls and classrooms.

But since the Israeli military set up a gate at the bottom of the school hill two years ago, children as young as six years old and most of the two dozen teachers have been either delayed or denied access to the village. Classes have been held up or cancelled, forcing the headmistress to send students home.

For the past three years the headmistress has been working with UNICEF to help ensure children continue learning despite school closures and disruptions.

© UNICEF video
Soundos Maher, aged 11, studies remedial worksheets with her stepmother Ramia Abed Al-Fatah at their home.

UNICEF has trained thousands of teachers and parents throughout the West Bank and Gaza to help students study on their own or at home with remedial worksheets.

“They became stronger and their knowledge has increased. It has opened their minds,” says parent Intisar Taher.

Parents say the project is not only helping educate their children but empowering the entire community.

Since the program began in 2000, more than three quarters of a million students throughout the West Bank and Gaza have been using remedial worksheets covering core subjects like mathematics, science, English and Arabic. The project is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Eleven-year-old Soundos Maher has been using the worksheets at home for the past three years.

Her stepmother Ramia Abed Al-Fatah says the training she received was invaluable in helping Soundos reach a 96 per cent average, second in her class.

“I help her to study. I know what her needs are at school and I can help her,” Ramia Abed Al-Fatah explained.

Soundos, who is in the fifth grade, plans to become a paediatrician one day.

UNICEF and the Canadian government have also worked with the community to provide the school with clean drinking water and to improve sanitation.




December 2005:
UNICEF Correspondent Anna Ceraldi reports on a UNICEF and Canadian government initiative to support the education of young Palestinians.

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