On 13 February, the students of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Kalandia Girls School hosted 25 Norwegian teachers from the Oslo Adult Education Centre, who were visiting Kalandia camp to observe first-hand the access restrictions that plague Palestine refugee residents of the West Bank. Kalandia Girls (School 2) serves 500 students from grades five through nine while Kalandia Girls (School 1) serves approximately 350 students from grades one through four.
The UNRWA Director of Education for the Jerusalem region, Durgham Abdul-Aziz, led the group discussion, along with Amneh Zahran, principal of Kalandia Basic Girls School 2, which serves 500 students in grades five through nine. Focusing on the UNRWA human rights curriculum and extracurricular activities, the visiting teachers were exposed to the Agency’s active-learning approach. Mr. Abdul-Aziz also introduced the visitors to the UNRWA School-based Teacher Development Programme, which has made capacity-building more efficient and affordable by bringing the process to school campuses themselves.
Principal Zahran highlighted student activities, such as the ‘Leading the Future’ programme, which gives UNRWA students the space to problem-solve and engage in peer counselling activities. Solutions and advice from teachers are provided upon request, while students are encouraged to determine problem-solving methods among themselves. In addition, ‘inclusive education’ is implemented in all UNRWA schools, seeking to ensure that each student receives the support needed to avoid grade retention.
Trip organizer Karin Frankel described her experience visiting the students. “We are happy to have the opportunity to visit this school. It is our aim to learn about the conflict from both sides,” she said, adding, “the Centre will focus on the Palestinian conflict as part of our conflict-resolution class.” Centre inspector and trip participant Kari Grande added that the Centre educates refugees from all over the globe. “I’m happy to be here and believe that education is the source of change for the future,” she said.