Statement on UNRWA Response

In respect to UNRWA’s latest statement on our report reviewing UNRWA-branded school materials, labeled for use in 2022, below is an executive summary. Given that UNRWA chose to reach out in its statement to IMPACT-se for guidance on the reviewed material, we felt compelled to provide additional information.

Although not within the scope of our research, a cursory inspection of UNRWA school social media accounts reveals that UNRWA-branded materials in our report, in violation of UN values, are, in fact, used in the UNRWA schools.

This is despite UNRWA’s absolute denial that problematic UNRWA-produced teaching materials were “authorized for use in any UNRWA school,” claiming that identified materials were from an unnamed, private commercial website, which illegally utilized the agency’s logo and names of employees.

The UNRWA-branded material analyzed in the report includes 590 pages, in 30 documents, across at least four freely available open-source platforms, spanning six separate grades. They all bear the UNRWA logo or its name in Arabic. The materials list UNRWA staff, six of whom are supervisors and inspectors, as well as 49 teachers affiliated with over 30 UNRWA schools in three verified UNRWA school districts, who helped to write and supervise the documents in question.

Read Complete Response  HERE

Reformers Want Schools to Stop Churning out Arabic Students Who Can’t Speak Arabic

Early this year, an Arab lawmaker caused a stir by delivering a speech on the Knesset floor in Arabic. As Ra’am MK Walid Taha held forth on a controversial bill being considered, a right-wing parliamentarian assailed him, demanding that he speak Hebrew. Days later, another right-wing MK called for legislation mandating Hebrew in the plenum. In June, the issue reared its head again, nearly blowing a non-issue into a coalition crisis. Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi told an interviewer in Arabic that she and now-Prime Minister Yair Lapid had discussed issues she wanted resolved, but in a Hebrew tweet summarizing the interview, was misquoted as saying Lapid made her several controversial “promises.” Some reporters who relied on the Hebrew rather than the Arabic initially misquoted her, while others embarked on a wild goose chase as they tried to verify the comments or gather responses. The lack of Arabic comprehension in Israeli society is not limited to the Knesset or media, with few Jewish Israelis having more than rudimentary knowledge of the language. While some reformers have sought to make Arabic instruction mandatory in schools, students and others say even the classes that are being offered are not preparing students to be able to use the language outside of an academic setting. “We need to stop the oriental treatment of Arabic: Arabic is not a frozen language, it’s not the language of the enemy, it should be taught like French and English,” said Yoni Mendel, an Arabic scholar at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev who co-authored a 2020 report on the state of Arabic knowledge among Jewish Israelis for the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem…  Complete Article  HERE

Syrian Children Dream of Education in Lebanon

A Forgotten Generation: Syrian Children Dream of Education in Lebanon

Amin and his family fled Syria ten years ago, when the conflict broke out. He was just a baby when they arrived to Jbeil, Lebanon. When he was seven, Amin first joined JRS’s activities. Today, at 10 years old, he attends the JRS learning support program at Nicolas Kluiters Centre (NKC) in the morning and a local public school in the afternoon. The learning support program is designed to provide language and homework assistance to kids registered in public schools, as well as other educational activities to help students succeed. Amin is one of many children whose families, for a variety of reasons, had to flee their home country. Growing up in an unfamiliar environment, these children are now battling for a better future in their host countries…   Complete Article  HERE

A Case for Educational Justice in Africa

A Case for Educational Justice in Africa

Affo, 29, was born in a polygamous family comprising more than two dozen children. He is the second child to have obtained a high school degree but the only one to have gone to university. For his seven years at high school, he had to balance his studies with part-time jobs to pay tuition fees and daily expenses. Affo was brought up in a place where educational opportunities are nearly non-existent. But Affo’s is not an isolated story. Rather, it’s common in Benin and the wider African continent. If we’re serious about intergenerational fairness, we need to urgently address the education problems facing millions of Affos in Africa. A widening educational inequality is a global problem but its effects are particularly dire in Africa, given the low level of literacy and the failure of education systems to adapt to the constantly evolving dynamics of learning. While the global literacy rate stands at 90 percent, the average in Africa is about 70 percent. But this continental average does not provide an accurate understanding of the realities.  Complete Article  HERE

Pakistani Buses Speed Women to Education, Jobs

New Bus Line Speeds Pakistani Women to Education, Jobs

Pakistani student Mah Jabeen credits a new public bus system in her home city with saving her from being stuck at her parents’ house doing chores – or even having to get married. Thanks to the Bus Rapid Transit system in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Ms. Jabeen said she had been able to continue her master’s degree—keeping alive her dreams of becoming a botanist. “My parents had decided to stop my education … because they didn’t like me traveling in the disheveled Mazda wagons,” Ms. Jabeen said, referring to the city’s privately run minibuses while sitting on a shiny BRT bus en route to college. They relented, she said, because the new bus stop was just a few minutes from her front door and dropped her off at the university gates. Launched in 2020, the BRT has proved hugely popular among women in the ultra-conservative city, where burqas and veils are standard female dress and 90 percent of women reported feeling unsafe using public transport in a 2016 survey.  Complete Article  HERE

Afghan Girls Waiting for Mobile School

Mobile Schools Provide Hope for Afghan Children—Especially for Girls

“Afghanistan’s education system has been devastated by more than three decades of sustained conflict. For many of the country’s children, completing primary school remains a distant dream—especially in rural areas and for girls—despite recent progress in raising enrollment.In the poorest and remote areas of the country, enrollment levels vary extensively and girls still lack equal access” (UNICEF— https://www.unicef.org/afghanistan/education).  Afghan volunteers have organized a mobile educational program to tour remote areas, giving children hope after the Taliban closed schools for girls in March. An Afghan NGO, Pen Path, gives lessons and library books to children who might otherwise be starved of any opportunity to learn. Pictorial Essay Begins  HERE

Students attend a class at the beginning of the school year amid fears of the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Sanaa, Yemen

How Yemeni Parents Are Banding Together to Keep Their Kids in School

Seven years into a deadly and devastating war, thousands of Yemeni parents are using what little they have left to fight for an untold victim of the country’s conflict: their childrens’ education. Ahmed Mahdi, 50, is one of them. The father of three drives a taxi in Yemen’s Houthi rebel-held capital city of Sana’a. He was already struggling to make ends meet by 2016, a year into the conflict between the rebels and Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which is backed by a Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-led coalition. That year, the government decamped from Sana’a to Aden and moved the central bank there too. After that, teachers at the public schools Mahdi’s three high-schoolers attended stopped receiving regular salaries, along with around 170,000 teachers and many more public servants in parts of the country controlled by the Houthis. Complete Article  HERE

Philippine School Trolley

Trolley School Helps Philippine Children Keep Their Education on Track

A brightly decorated wooden trolley rumbles down a little-used rail track in the southern Philippines carrying four young teachers—two on the front and two in the back—pushing it along with their feet. Kitted out with a whiteboard, colorful charts, and a stack of books, the tiny, mobile school slides along from village to village three times a week, bringing education to impoverished children near the city of Tagkawayan as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps schools shut in much of the South-East Asian archipelago. “It’s important that we do this, especially now that there is a pandemic and the children cannot do face-to-face learning,” Shaira Berdin, one of nine volunteers who operate the trolley, said in an interview as kids crouched in the grass by the railway track, thumbing through English books. Tagkawayan is a town of about 54,000 people in Quezon province, about 176 kilometers south-east of Manila…  Complete Article HERE

Huddled in Secret Schools, Afghan Girls Refuse to Give Up on Education

Behind a yellow door in an alley blanketed by snow, 25 girls sit on the floor, huddled in coats and headscarves, in front of a white board. “What are you doing?” the teacher asks in English. “I am a student!” they chant in unison. Their plastic shoes that are piled outside the door are a symbol of extraordinary courage: six months after the Taliban seized power in Kabul, crushing the dreams of women and girls by banning them from secondary education, some are fighting back. They are going to secret classes in clandestine schools. “I want to be an educated person,” says Yalda, 11, eyes shining under a scarlet scarf. “I want to be an engineer and build beautiful schools and homes in my country.” Kamila, 16, had heard stories from her mother about secret schools under the previous Taliban regime in the 1990s but never imagined she might end up in one. “I thought the world is too developed. But here we are.” She dreams of a brighter future: “I want to go to university to be an investigative lawyer, particularly helping those who can’t pay.” When the girls heard about a secret school in their area, they were overjoyed. They bravely insisted that they are not scared of being caught. “Learning is not a crime,” Fatima, 12, saidComplete Article HERE

JP_The Emirati Curriculum_Bennett and MBZ (MS)

The Emirati School Curriculum: When Peace Goes to School

When President Isaac Herzog flies to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, marking the first official visit of an Israeli president to the Gulf state, he will be welcomed by the man who is arguably the Middle East’s most effective educational reformer. According to The New York Times, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, also known as MBZ, undertook a bottom-up review of all of his country’s vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks after 9/11. Among other things, MBZ took a long, hard look at the UAE’s education ministry which Islamists had previously made into a state within a state of sorts, demanding a sweeping rewrite of the country’s textbooks. … The UAE is developing strategically to secure a stake in the emerging world order and understands that education for tolerance and peaceful coexistence is critical for societies to flourish. Emirati students are taught that prosperity and national pride are intrinsically linked to peace and tolerance, a theme that runs throughout the curriculum. Textbooks take the psychological well-being of their students seriously, educating young generations morally and spiritually for a rapidly changing global society… Complete Article HERE