Image: Women and child on bus in Pakistan

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

Image: Boy standing at a black board being taught by teacher at a school in 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

Image: Girls in the Philippines sitting outside story books

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

Image: From the back, girls sit in a crowded classroom in Afghanistan with the teacher in front of them

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

Image: President Isaac Herzog and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan

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

Image: Classroom with blackboard in the front

Kurdish Education in Turkey: A Joint Responsibility

Turkish elites often see Kurds as posing a mortal threat to their homeland’s territorial integrity. Kurdish elites often harbor pan-Kurdish dreams of their own. The rise to power of Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2002 appeared to imply a watershed, bringing about a measure of cultural liberalization toward the Kurds. More Islam seemed at first to signal less nationalistic chauvinism. IMPACT-se, a think tank focusing on peace and tolerance in school education, pointed out that the AKP government introduced liberal elements to the Turkish curriculum. These “included the introduction of a Kurdish language elective program, the teaching of evolution, expressions of cultural openness, and displays of tolerance toward minorities. … a slight improvement over past textbooks in recognizing the Kurds, but they are still generally ignored.” [Yet] the name “Kurd” is no longer obliterated from the curriculum. Kurdish-language textbooks were authored as part of a wider Turkish-Kurdish rapprochement. … But this is not enough. A Turkish-Kurdish common vision should be developed. Educationally, a serious effort should be directed toward educating both Turks and Kurds about each other’s identity, culture, shared history, commonalities, conflicts, and interactions… Complete Article  HERE

Image: Animated photo of two people sitting in a park bench, with text bubbles of arabic phrases written in phonetic Hebrew

Arabic-Learning ‘Madrasa’ App Developed by Technion Students

Students from the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science at the Technion recently developed a voice-recognition app for the “Madrasa” project to help people learn Arabic. Part of the Madrasa project—which advocates for better communication in Israeli society through spoken Arabic courses—the app includes a voice recognition feature that will allow tens of thousands of students learning Arabic in online courses to practice their pronunciation. Students Noor Hamdan, Rina Atieh, Lina Mansour and Wadad Boulos worked on developing the app. “Working with the students was very effective and helpful,” Gilad Sevitt, founder and director of Madrasa, said. “They came on board and contributed greatly to our project, and we enjoyed working together on both the linguistic and technological levels. . . . With the help of Technion students, we were able to develop a voice recognition component that will finally allow tens of thousands of students in our online courses to practice their pronunciation in Arabic and speak while learning,” Sevitt said.  Complete Article HERE

Image: hand holding an open Quran

Egyptian Parliament Reopens Debate on Quran’s Place in the Curriculum

When the Egyptian Parliament recently considered a bill intended to support the use of Standard Arabic, the discussion grew heated between a a representative of Al-Azhar and a parliamentarian who objected to provisions about Quran memorization in primary school. Modern Standard Arabic is the formal dialect of the wider Arabic language, which there are now many dialects across the Arab world. On Nov. 30, the Egyptian Parliament discussed a bill containing measures to support of the arguably archaic literary dialect that included a language exam for applicants for government jobs, obligating shops to post their names in Standard Arabic and forcing advertisements and television programs to broadcast their content in Standard Arabic. The bill includes penalties of up to a year in imprison and fines of up to 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($3,175). In the session, a representative of Al-Azhar suggested students be required to memorize more Quranic verses, but parliamentarian Youssef Al-Husseini objected to provisions in the bill that retain Quran memorization in primary school. “There are non-Muslim students like Copts who should not be forced to memorize the Quran,” argued Husseini, who is deputy chairman of parliament’s media and culture committee.  Complete Article HERE

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Welcome! A message from Impact’s founder

It is a great pleasure to write Impact’s first blog on the new site. The organization was initially set up with the limited objective of monitoring whether the 1993 Oslo Accord between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was being supported by a positive change in the education of Palestinian children, namely promoting mutual acceptance, mutual recognition, reconciliation and peace between the two peoples. Read more