GIVING CHILDREN A HEAD START IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

Wednesday 6 December 2017

At the end of last month, Save the Children celebrated the successes of its Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) programme at an event hosted by its partner the Early Childhood Resource Center (ECRC). The event was attended by the Deputy Minister for Education, Dr Basri Saleh, the Director of the ECRC, Nabil Sublaban, Save the Children's West Bank Senior Area Manager, Dr Mohammed Awad, representatives of academic institutions and management and teachers from the kindergartens supported by the project.

Save the Children aims to improve the learning and development of children at the ECCD level in the most vulnerable areas in the occupied Palestinian territory through working on developing an effective national system. In today's event, the focus was on two key elements of the programme: the successful completion of the pre-service training and the in-service training for kindergarten teachers.

Underlining the importance of the project, Save the Children's West Bank Senior Area Manager said:

"Each child is born with the ability to learn, motivation to discover, and different creative talents. These motivations are concentrated in early childhood. Save the Children seeks to develop the early childhood sector in the occupied Palestinian territory and is currently conducting a study on the quality and accessibility of education in kindergartens. The outputs of this study and its recommendations will form the framework of the next phase of Save the Children's ECCD programming."

One of the key achievements of the project was the development and launch of the first manual for teachers in kindergartens. Developed in partnership with UNICEF and American Near East Refugee Aid, the manual guides teachers on activities that will support the positive development and learning of young children. Launched in October this year, the Ministry for Education is now planning to pilot the manual in selected locations before full roll out.

Last year, a separate manual was also developed by Save the Children and ECRC for university professors on how to teach trainee teachers to implement ECCD activities that will help children's cognitive development from an early age.

Reflecting on the achievements of the project and next steps, Deputy Minister for Education, Dr. Basri Saleh said:

"43% of the children in Palestine do not receive any education before Primary School. Every child has the right to pre-schooling. The MoE are aware of their responsibilities and have started taking measures to develop the early childhood development sector in Palestine. However, this requires a joint effort from many organizations and we look forward to future cooperation with the different stakeholders"

"The kindergarten teacher's manual sets the minimum standards that each kindergarten should adhere to, which is a very important first step. From here, we need to work on the action plan for implementing the manual for all kindergarten teachers."

The event also included the presentation of certificates for the in-service trainings for 32 kindergarten teachers from the West Bank, following 3 years of training. The training included an introduction to early childhood development, the main subjects at kindergarten level, documentation and planning, follow up and evaluation and partnership with parents. Overall, the project has trained 32 kindergarten teachers and 83 trainee teachers.

Ghada Qut, a teacher from Madama Village Kindergarten in North of the West Bank, said:

"We didn't know that our experience wasn't enough until we received the training. We now understand the importance of each activity with children and we can evaluate ourselves based on the training we received. The benefits of the project were extended to the children's homes due to the workshops with the parents."