Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Right to Education- our first two weeks

Marhaba! We are the second cohort of UK and Palestinian volunteers who will be working together on the Right to Education campaign at Birzeit University. We are very grateful to the previous group for all of their hard work, as it has given us excellent foundations to build upon for the next two months.

We have spent our first official working week brainstorming ideas and meeting with members of the campaign to give us a clear idea of what is realistic and achievable in eight weeks of work. The head of the campaign, Nadia, has been very accommodating to our new ideas and is happy for us to continue the work of the last cohort, as well as helpfully informing us of what the campaign wants to achieve in the long-term. To do our job effectively it is very important for us to try and understand the nature of education under occupation. We have done this by speaking to many students, but by also visiting the prisoners’ rights organisation Addameer. They provide free legal aid to Palestinian prisoners and raise national and international awareness about the profiles of those who have been unfairly incarcerated, including many students and children. This helped us further understand the political and social implications arrests have on young Palestinians.

We have decided to continue the #didyouknow campaign and we will be releasing a post every Monday afternoon via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, as a way of raising awareness through social media. We have begun collecting facts and pictures to create a database of #didyouknow statistics, to make the whole process very easy and straightforward. We have also started coordinating with Omar (the campaign’s school visits organiser) to arrange visits to schools in Hebron and Nablus. We are planning on visiting one-two schools a week, and writing up articles and profiles on the schools to raise awareness about the conditions children have to learn under. Also following on from the previous cohort, we will continue to establish connections with UK universities, and are aiming to have a minimum of ten universities partake in the Right to Education week in November 2015.

After initial discussions we decided that it is important to all of us to focus on quality rather than quantity, and so we want to focus on projects that can be easily sustained by the Right to Education campaign in the long-term. We thought that conducting a student poll would be effective to get a clear understanding of awareness and opinion from students on their right to education. However, we realised that unless we did this thoroughly it would lack any credibility and so any articles or reports we did based on it would have very little weight. We therefore decided that we would put our energies into producing an academically valid and statistically significant survey and report on students’ perception and understanding of their right to education. If done well, it could potentially help shape future projects, make them more efficient and improve the direction of the overall campaign.

We are trying to set up links between Birzeit University Right to Education campaign and other universities in the West Bank, and so have already started researching whether this is doable. We have made some contact with Al Quds University, where other ICS volunteers are based, and so we hope that we can use this connection to re-establish relationships between Birzeit and Al Quds in order to expand the Right to Education campaign across the West Bank.

We are all really excited to get the ball rolling, and have a really busy and productive time here. We will update this blog regularly to let people know how we are getting on.

Ma’a Salama.  

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