Students' lives during the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed in the West Bank on 5 March 2020. The first cases were diagnosed in the Bethlehem district and then spread to all districts, including Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority decided to confine all areas and restrict movement unless it was a major force. At the same time, the Ministry of Education (MOE) decided to close all schools and universities in Palestine.
The health situation did not allow the representatives of Hope ASBL to carry out our annual mission to Palestine during the spring of 2020. However, this did not prevent us from continuing our contacts by email and sometimes even by telephone with our partners: the Arab American University of Palestine (AAUP), Al Kamandjâti (AK) and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) and to ask them for news of Hope's student scholars.
Overall, the difficult context experienced by our young people did not prevent them from succeeding in the spring academic semester and continuing or completing their studies.
News from the PMRS students :
Due to the lockdown, the School of Community Health had to develop a new emergency training plan to continue the semester :
- choice of online learning process to ensure social distancing ;
- development of a WhatsApp group for trainers as well as for students to facilitate communication ;
- development of a weekly e-learning schedule.
With the relaxation of health measures, the final examinations could be held in June on the school premises using security measures. A practical training plan was developed so that all students could practice in the PMRS health centres in early July for five weeks.
In terms of the effect on the PMRS Community Health School programme, the closure of the country and the use of a new learning strategy had both a positive and negative effect. Part of the positive effect is reflected in the fact that they used e-learning skills that they had never used before. This helped the students to communicate easily with each other and with the trainers. However, there were some barriers to using this new learning process, such as the difficulty of accessing the Internet for some students, which prevented them from attending all the training sessions. For these students, individual revision was organised before taking the final exams and extra time was given for the final exam. In addition, the online training process did not allow for participatory methods such as group work, exercises, case presentations, etc.
In addition, the economic situation had a devastating effect on the students and their families. Students were already complaining about poverty before the pandemic, but it has become even more difficult as a result. Most of the students' fathers were working as daily wage earners so they had to stay at home for more than three months without income, while some lost their jobs.
News from the students of Al Kamandjâti :
Despite the confinement, students were able to continue their courses online via WhatsApp, Zoom, and other platforms, and online concerts were also organised. In June-July 2020, classes were resumed at the Al Kamandjâti centres in Jenin and Ramallah, allowing the students to complete their level of study and prepare for the instrumental and theoretical exams in August.
The period of confinement was not easy for the students, they wished to testify :
"It was very difficult to keep in touch with my teacher and friends at AK and I was also very worried about studying online at my university: lots of homework, quizzes and exams. It's a strange experience that changes everything in your "online" life!"
"Psychologically I was affected by not being able to go out and see friends and colleagues, and there was not enough motivation to play and study, but now I am moving from school to university level and I aim to get a very good average so that I can study the subject I like. I also want to teach my current skills to other people and pass on my experience."
"The distance learning courses didn't start right away when the lockdown was introduced So for the short time that the courses were cancelled, I wasn't very motivated to practice as well as before. But since then, things have started up again, like before."
"It's been a good experience because I've had a lot of participation with many musicians to play together online, especially with my band called Sanabel and we have many videos online. I am really happy to have this great opportunity to learn music and to be funded by your great association, thank you very much."