October 2021 newsletter
As in all countries, the educational process in Palestine was severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic imposed continuous confinement and severe travel restrictions on Palestinians. During the past academic year, teachers have therefore had to combine classroom teaching with virtual teaching. This strategy has had both positive and negative aspects. The main positive aspect has been that students have gained experience in e-learning, which has helped them to communicate more easily with their trainers and with each other. A negative aspect was that the students found it difficult to connect to the internet because they live in vulnerable communities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They were therefore not always able to attend all the online courses. In addition, student participation during online courses is not as evident as during classroom courses.
In this difficult Palestinian context, while wanting to ensure as much stability as possible in the number of scholarships awarded in the future, the Hope Board of Directors decided to maintain the number of scholarships at the same level as last year, i.e. 40 for the academic year 2021-2022, according to the following distribution: 6 scholarships for PMRS, 4 scholarships for Al Kamandjâti, 14 scholarships for Al Quds and 16 scholarships for AAUP. These scholarships represent an expenditure of about 32 000 € for this 2nd semester 2021.
Latest PMRS news:
At the PMRS, teachers were unable to use certain teaching methods, such as group work, exercises and clinical case presentations. All exams were held at the PMRS premises, but prior to the exams, reviews were held for the online courses to ensure that the students understood the content of the courses. The students' evaluations were good and the teachers were satisfied with the students' results.
When the students had finished their exams, they were supposed to start the practical training. However, due to the confinement and travel restrictions, this training was delayed by 3 weeks. The term was therefore extended by 3 weeks. As half of the students were living in a dormitory in Ramallah and most of the sites for the practical training were in Ramallah, it was easy for the students to participate in the training. And it is worth mentioning that the objectives of the practical training were achieved as before the pandemic.
Despite the difficult conditions of confinement, there were no dropouts among the students. In addition, a PMRS counselling service was available to students.
Here are some testimonies from the students (received in Arabic and translated by us):
Siwar: "I have finished my first year studies and I am now in my second year. My first year was a year full of new experiences for me, as I left home. Living in a dormitory, I found it hard to adapt to the new situation at first, but now it's like home. During the year, I benefited from a lot of useful information on a practical and scientific level. I learned how to deal with chronic diseases, nutrition and its importance for health, nursing skills and how to apply them in practical training and how to be patient with people."
Anal: "I enjoyed studying at PMRS academically and socially, as these studies rely heavily on relationships with society and people. Societies in general need more health advice to be able to live a healthy life, and this is an area that we are particularly studying. I have gained a lot of information and skills in the first year, and I can also rely on myself in some health issues to help people, the most important of which is health education, which many people in our society ignore."
Haneen: "In my first year, my personality developed from several aspects, such as self-confidence, boldness, and not discriminating between men and women. I learned a lot of life-changing nursing skills, such as giving needles, measuring vital signs and giving first aid, which led to the strengthening of my personality in this company. In addition, we had health education classes in several areas such as chronic diseases, use of medication and nutrition."
Anfal: "It was a good experience to study at PMRS, as the material was very useful both in theory and practice. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the lectures were given in an excellent manner."
Walaa: "On a personal level, I was able to develop my nursing and health education skills through continuous practice in the practical training sites. The work placement was one of the best times I have ever had. There were only a few difficulties with transportation. During our studies we were supported by our families and the community as a whole. This year of study has given us more experience and more skills for the community we are in contact with.
Latest news from Al Kamandjâti:
As live concerts, especially student concerts, could not be set up during the lockdown, the association decided to create an online space for them on social networks, called "play music at home", where each of them could play whatever they wanted from home for their peers. And this initiative did a lot to keep these students enthusiastic and motivated throughout this period. Indeed, especially for beginners, it is very difficult to learn an instrument without the physical presence of a teacher who can show you the right position of the arm, hand, fingers ... For the more advanced, it is easy to continue lessons online for a while, but not for beginners.
During the quarantine period, Al Kamandjâti Association also started working on the production of many original songs with the participation of many students and musicians from Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Spain. One of these songs was "Dreams and Hills" which was widely broadcasted all over the world as it talks about our plight as Palestinians with two main epidemics, the epidemic of occupation and the epidemic of Covid-19. This song and other musical compositions were made using the musicians' personal mobile phones from their homes.
The last quarter at AK was a kind of renaissance as the association was able to realise many of the projects that had to be cancelled due to the health crisis. These projects were warmly welcomed by all the students because they missed playing together and coming together through music.
For example, the "Cello Orchestra Project" is a project that brings together 30 cello students from all over Palestine (Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem and the refugee camps of Qalandiah, Jalazon and El Azza). The orchestra, led by Fabienne Van Eck, aims to bring together cello students from different parts of Palestine and also to introduce the cello to the Palestinian people in the hope that more people will listen to, enjoy and perhaps even play the cello. After regular rehearsals, there was a cello orchestra tour in June and July 2021.
In addition, AK has been organising a concerto competition for several years, in which any music student can participate. The idea is that the winners of the competition will be able to perform as soloists during a concert tour organised by the association. The orchestra is conducted by Muntaser Jebrini. This competition is very stimulating for the students as it forces them to play their musical instrument with a clear objective which is very exciting for them.
The AK Association starts this new academic year hoping that it will be as normal as possible. They have many projects to realize, such as monthly student concerts, a Christmas concert ...
Unfortunately, a number of AK students have dropped out because of the health crisis. Some of them did not have good internet connections that would allow them to follow the courses online. More importantly, some dropped out because they were students and did not know how to tune their instruments, which prevented them from being able to practice properly.
Here are some testimonies from students:
Asma (violin): "I have been learning the violin for a long time in Al Kamandjâti. This year, despite the complicated situation that everyone has experienced, I was able to participate in many musical activities and concerts with my friends and teachers: the New Year's concert, the Al Kamandjâti AMARENTINA girls' ensemble, the concert tour in Ramallah, Nablus and Deir Ghassana; the Wein festival in Ramallah. In addition, I taught music to children during the summer camp organised by the association, which gave me new professional experience; it was great! Al Kamandjâti is my second home and I am very grateful to my teachers and friends there.
Karam (bouzouq): "I have been playing the bouzouq for 9 years: it is a great passion for me. Music keeps me going all day long and I decided to continue learning music at Birzet University to get a second degree. During my studies at Al Kamandjâti, I also played many concerts with the Arab music ensemble, the AK students' oriental ensemble, the AK festivals during the summer camps, the El Estkelal group with the Ministry of Culture in Jordan ... Al Kamandjâti is the best thing that happened to me in life and it allowed me to enter another dimension and have another way of thinking.
In conclusion, as you have read in this newsletter, our Palestinian partners have not lacked imagination and dynamism to continue to provide classes during the period of confinement.
And Hope ... More than ever, we want to continue to help young students to have hope for a better future for themselves, their families and their people and we continue to count on your support to achieve this.