June 10th, 2016 by ANERA
ANERA has been supporting the construction of a preschool curriculum framework that prepares Palestine’s youngest children for a better future. In the past six years alone, the ANERA early childhood development (ECD) team has reached 30,000 children with innovative learning techniques, helped rehabilitate and rebuild 165 kindergartens, and trained more than 600 teachers.
On May 15th, the Ministry of Education held a launch to recognize the culmination of ANERA’s efforts to co-draft the national guidelines for a preschool curriculum. The framework was launched under the auspices and participation of Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Sabri Saidam.
It is considered a cornerstone of the Palestinian education system that is expected to change the face of preschool education in Palestine. “We are confident that with the platform that the curriculum framework provides, many, many more children will enjoy quality preschooling opportunities in Palestine,” said Paul Butler, ANERA’s director for Palestine. The achievements of the program are already visible in preschool renovations, teacher training and community involvement.
New Framework Empowers Children & Educators
The first-ever national framework for preschool education in Palestine evolved through four months of intensive work, meetings, field visits and work sessions. It was a joint effort including the Ministry of Education, ANERA, and other well-respected international and local organizations. Preschool supervisors, who have a vested interest in the program’s success, also actively participated.
ANERA engaged former board member Dr. Ilham Nasser, associate professor in the early childhood education program at George Mason University, to develop the framework. As a consultant to the ministry, Dr. Nasser led the national work team through the entire process. At the May 15 ceremony, she proudly held the framework document and underscored its significance for Palestinian children:
“A national framework is an investment in a better economic, cultural and social future…It’s an educational roadmap with a clear path toward a safe and constructive preschool experience. But we need to move quickly to implement the plan to better serve young Palestinians.”
Training Preschool Teachers in Expressive Arts Education
One of the keys to success is ANERA’s enrolling teacher training in creative education techniques. In July, 25 teachers from Jericho and 25 from Ramallah will complete the ANERA-designed-preschool teacher in-service program, supported by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. So far, 32 teachers have completed the training in Gaza. Apart from the core curriculum topics, the teachers learn how the use of drama, art and music in the classroom offers a new perspective on the teaching and learning experience.
This month for example, ANERA exposed teachers in Ramallah to a musical experience they usually do not come across. Traditionally, music is not viewed as a means of creativity and learning, but rather as a way of release, according to ANERA’s music trainer Buran Sa’ada. As a musician, child musical therapist and a trainer, Buran works to promote music education in Palestinian schools.
For the training, Buran quickly placed percussion instruments in the hands of the teachers so they could be a part of the excitement that music provides. Instead of passively playing music for the children, the teachers experienced the excitement and joy of creating the music themselves with rattles, a tambourine, a set of castanets, xylophone, drums and other instruments.
A proper learning environment is also an essential part of the framework. ANERA has already renovated 165 preschools in the West Bank and Gaza. In the next few months, ANERA will renovate six preschools in Jericho, eight in Ramallah, one in Tubas and five in Gaza. ANERA is also building a new preschool in Marj Na’jah in Jericho and another in Deir al Balah in Gaza.
ANERA’s ECD program is built on a comprehensive and holistic vision to provide the best learning environment for children in safe and colorful settings with child-appropriate learning materials and furnishings, sanitary facilities and playgrounds.