West Bank Villages Open New Preschools
Four-year old Manal could not believe her eyes when she saw her new preschool. “I couldn’t sleep all night because I was thinking about when I could play with my friends in my new school.”
Manal lives in the West Bank village of Beit Mirsim where ANERA recently rebuilt the village preschool. The inauguration ceremony was a colorful celebration for Beit Mirsim and Anab Al Kabir villages which are both benefiting from new facilities.
ANERA is expanding its ECD program to establish kindergartens in eight West Bank public schools.
Like many remote villages in the Hebron area, unemployment is rampant and few can afford to pay tuition or transportation fees to send their children to preschool. But that reality has changed since 2010, when ANERA initiated its early childhood development (ECD) program, known as Right Start!, to bring quality preschool education to remote communities like Beit Mirsim and Anab Al Kabir.
Thanks to funding from Dubai Cares and support from the Palestinian Ministry of Education, ANERA is establishing kindergarten classes within existing elementary schools across the West Bank.
“This is a groundbreaking development in the ministry’s campaign to make preschool education available to the most marginalized communities of the West Bank and Gaza,” said Deputy Education Minister Jehad Zakarneh. The minister, along with community officials, families and children participated in the festive inauguration of the Beit Mirsim and Anab Al Kabir preschools.
Under its ECD program ANERA remodeled and outfitted the preschools with curtains, carpets, child-sized tables and chairs and painted in pastel child-friendly colors that brought smiles to the children’s faces when they discovered their new surroundings.
The school’s playground was redesigned with safety in mind. So were the bathrooms, which were properly sized for the youngsters. ANERA also provided high quality learning materials, from books and puzzles to art materials and a special reading corner space.
ANERA also trained the preschool teachers to provide skills and tools for stimulating the children’s creativity and love of learning.
That love was evident when young Mohammad saw his new kindergarten class in Anab Al Kabir village: “I want to stay in this class. I don’t want to grow old or ever leave. I love it here.”