A New Life for a West Bank School
Entering the grounds of Al Taybeh Greek Orthodox School sends you into a world of glimmering white stone and welcoming archway. The sounds of laughter and footsteps fill the air as children dressed in their blue school uniforms sprint across the playground.
Al Taybeh School was built by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem almost 130 years ago. The Mayor of Al Taybeh, Mr. Daoud Canaan Khoury: “It is one of the largest schools in Taybeh, attended by 430 students, with the majority of students coming from neighboring villages such as Silwad, Deir Jreer, Kufur Malek, Rammon and Al-Mazra’a Al-Sharqiyeh.” The school’s grounds require constant maintenance, a costly endeavor. The school received some funding in the past to maintain the older building and facilities; however, some major problems still remained.
The 430 students of the school now have much bigger, adequate facilities.
“The lack of space not only restricted the students’ movement, but it also created an unhealthy environment with limited ventilation and noise pollution,” explained head mistress Abeer Khoriye.
“With some classrooms having over 30 students, this was inevitable.” She added that the safety of her young students was also at stake. The most dangerous was the deteriorated and unstable southern edge of the boundary walls. “At any moment, the wall could have fallen on the students, if there was an earthquake or a car accident on the adjacent street.”
The kindergarten was built into a slope and structurally unstable, suffering from constant water seepage especially during the rainy season, not to mention mold contamination. The school was often forced to evacuate the kindergarten classrooms until the water dried up. “During one of the Ministry of Education’s inspections, we were warned that we might have to close some of the classrooms due to risks that jeopardized the students’ safety.” This would have meant turning away a number of students.
Today, the problems are gone, thanks to ANERA’s major renovations with $750,000 of USAID funding through the Emergency Water and Sanitation and Other Infrastructure Program (EWAS II).
ANERA constructed a two-storey building to replace the old one. The first floor houses a new, spacious kindergarten with an outdoor play area. The second floor includes six additional classrooms for elementary students. Two new sanitary units were added, one on each floor, as well as a handicapped bathroom on the ground floor, and a new drinking fountain for the students. Most importantly, the old, dangerous section of the boundary wall was demolished and a new, strong wall built in its place.
Headmistress Abeer Khoriye breaths a sigh of relief. “The faculty and students have never been happier. We now have a new beautiful building, and most importantly, my students are enjoying the extra space in a healthy environment, and are safe and sound.”
ANERA project manager Jubran Said, an experienced engineer, is proud of the new, safe structure: “The newly constructed kindergarten is a stark contrast to its demolished predecessor. Both the children and their teachers can now enjoy this optimal learning environment and parents will have peace of mind knowing that their children are studying in a properly constructed facility.”