Tuesday, 23 October 2012

On Sunday Tahmina and Cecil spent their first day running English clubs at Abu Dis Boys School. They worked with two groups of children, each from the 9th grade (Year 10 to us Brits)

The first group of students from Abu Dis Boys School
The second group of students from Abu Dis Boys School
They ran a session which focused on making the children more comfortable in introducing themselves in English. The students also got introduced to the twinning project and  were told that they are linked with Hampstead school.

As Eid is being celebrated in Palestine on Friday 26th October the students from each group have been a set a task to take photos of their Eid celebrations so that they can discuss the photos  and explain what is happening in them so that students in Hampstead school can get an insight into how people in Abu Dis celebrate Eid. Although the students were asked to do this on Sunday Tahmina and Cecil will not be able to run the next English clubs with these students again until 4th November.  This is because of two reasons: the four day Eid holiday and teacher strikes.

Teachers in state schools in the West Bank (the part of Palestine we are in) have not been paid for three months as the Palestinian Authority (PA), the government in charge of for paying teachers wages in the West Bank, do not currently have enough money. One reason is that Israel’s occupation of Palestine means that the West Bank's economy income is linked to Israel’s economy. The direct effect of this linkage is that the West Bank is prevented from developing its own economy that can rely only on Palestinian businesses, factories and economic projects. The West Bank is therefore partially dependent on the money generated from Israel’s economic endeavors (Israel is obligated to give money to the PA because as the occupying power they have to financially support the Palestinians according to international law) and since 1993 has been largely dependent on foreign aid (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/palestinian-authority-salaries_n_1646032.html). In the wake of the current global financial crisis many donor countries have cut back on their foreign aid agreements with the West Bank (http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20121012139351). Additionally, Israel have significant control over how much money is given to the PA and consequently influences the amount of money that is available  to pay public sector workers in the West Bank.

Both of these factors mean that the Palestinian authority do not currently have the $150 million dollars monthly they say they need to pay their public sector employees, including state school teachers and university lecturers. Although, the effects of the linkage of the Palestinian and Israeli economies hugely influences the money that is available to pay state school teachers in the West Bank, questions should also be asked about the extent to which economic corruption within the PA influences why they are currently not paying their teachers. This is a popular view shown by a Palestinian Public Opinion Poll conducted in June 2012; 71% of Palestinians interviewed thought that there was corruption within the PA (http://www.pcpsr.org/survey/polls/2012/p44efull.html#domestic).

These brief considerations highlight how the Israeli occupation of Palestine is hindering the amount and quality of education that state school students receive in the West Bank.

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