Educational project 2004

In 2004 Karama set up an educational project with the generous funding of the Austrian Development Cooperation. In Deheishe, the possibilities and opportunities offered by the educational system aim mainly at those students performing best and having the best grades. This means that the students which perform less get less opportunities to learn and to catch up. Moreover, as the UNRWA schools are overcrowded, the pupils don't receive the personal support they need and deserve.

To make up for this lack of opportunities and individual attention, Karama organized remedial courses, for which the average class size was much lower than the size of the UNRWA classes. The first part of this project consisted of identifying the pupils that perform poorly, with the help of the local teachers. Next, Karama offered them for a period of two years supplementary courses in Arabic, English and Mathematics, to help them perform better at school. The courses not only benefited the academic achievements of our children, they also enjoyed the more personal and individual approach, which strongly contributed to the strengthening of their self-esteem. Moreover, the smaller class sizes enabled the teachers to provide the children with much needed mental support, given the trauma and stress caused by the life under occupation.

Another part of the educational project consisted of helping 15 children to go to school. For various reasons they were prevented from going. For example one child had to quit school to work in order to support his family financially, since his father was imprisoned and the family was left without an income to secure their livelihood. Karama provided these children with a monthly salary, to enable them to go to school instead of having to work on the streets to provide for their families. In 2005 six of these children passed their secondary school exams.

The last aspect of the project focused on those students facing social problems or learning difficulties. Some of them were children whose behaviour was severely affected by the occupation or that had lost one or both of their parents, while others came from illiterate families. These difficult living conditions caused them to behave in a violent and aggressive manner at school, which hindered the teachers and the other students in the classroom. In cooperation with the UN boys school Karama selected the most aggressive teenagers, aged 13 to 15, to participate in the project. The school warned Karama that it wouldn't be possible to work with them, but Karama nonetheless took up the challenge and set up a program for these teenagers. This program was the result of the work of two Karama social workers and consisted of 8 workshops organized during one month. They held conferences about subjects such as taking responsability, trusting others and having other people trust you. Moreover, the teenagers were taught how to prepare and organize workshops and activities for younger chrildren. At the end of the project and with the help of our social workers, they set up a big festival with activities and games for about 180 children. After concluding the 8 workshops, the social workers stayed in touched with the teenagers and continued to give them a conference once a week. At the end of the project their teachers ended up praising the teenagers that were once the most aggressive and violent students of all! The same program was repeated in the UN girls school and engendered even better results!

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