The Psycho-social Counselling Center for Women, with the support of the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), on Monday held an event to discuss the study titled “Research of female students’ dropout in Area C”, in order to ensure equal opportunities for girls in the Palestinian society to join educational institutions.
The conference discussed the research on why female students, specifically in the area C of Bethlehem and Hebron, have higher percentages of school dropout, and came out with recommendations to solve this problem.
The main reasons for female dropout from schools was the occupation and the expansion of settlements, where settlers would harrass or assault the students on their way to their schools, in addition to the economic difficulties which may prevent the girls from attending schools.
Khawla Al-Azraq Executive Director of the Psycho-social Counselling Center for Women explained that the Israeli occupation is targeting Palestinian children in various barbaric ways, pointing out that the center is a women’s institution working in the West Bank to bring about a qualitative and positive change and enhance the presence of Palestinian women in various fields.
“The Center focuses its activities in the marginalized areas known as area C, where women and children are subjected to serious violations by the occupation and its settlers. Economic conditions reflected on the reality of life.”
To his part, Dr. Mamoun Jabr, Director General of Planning at the Ministry of Education stressed the ministry’s commitment to ensuring students’ enrollment through compulsory law for the society and parents.
He also referred to educational programs such as the Sumud program, which support the establishment of schools in marginalized and targeted areas, in addition to educating sick students by opening classes in schools. In addition, Dr. Jab said the ministry is working towards providing teachers tio Jerusalem students who are subject to house arrest by the occupation.
The recommendations were published immediately following the conference, and included:
- The provision of school buses with better and more regular maintenance service.
- Open kindergartens under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
- The provision of professional social and psychological support for both families and students. It is urgent to allocate more education counsellors at schools and arrange for additional social and psychological support services to address the needs of both students and families in Area C communities.
- Provide customized programs and activities that allow wider students’ participation in extracurricular activities.
- Conduct further research to examine the potential for local universities’ contributions in advancing education in nearby Area C communities. The aim is to improve those students’ opportunities to access university education that will allow them to compete in a limited job market. One direct intervention could be to annually offer two or three scholarships for students from area C communities based on an agreed selection criteria. Examine the possibility of assigning a small financial contribution by local universities towards funding school visits to university campuses.
- Develop educational programs to overcome the low academic attainment problem and create an environment that will allow active cooperation among teachers, parents and volunteers to enhance the child’s belief that everyone is capable of learning and succeeding.
- Increase the numbers of job positions occupied by members of local communities. Considering the high demands of the employment market and lack of adequate training opportunities for the graduates from these communities, positive discrimination could serve as a good temporary solution to allow graduates to find job opportunities at schools and health clinics in the areas. To secure adequate level of competencies, graduates from the localities could be invited to participate in training events organized by the MOEHE and other international and local services’ providers.
- Provide opportunities for technical and vocational training, with special focus on agricultural vocational education and animal production.
- Credit and reward teachers and principals who strive to create effective initiatives and exert extra efforts to provide better education opportunities in harsh conditions, and disseminate information on positive and creative initiatives. It is important to pay careful attention to avoid additional marginalization of community members by encouraging members from the local community, both male and female, to join in the planning stages and assist them in the implementation of suggested initiatives.
- Coordinate with local and international organizations to support the establishment of cooperative initiatives to cover the study and transportation fees for students who aspire to continue their university education.