8 March 2010
Ghida El-Banna, a ninth-grader at UNRWA’s Nablus school in Saida City in Lebanon, was recently given an unusual opportunity: to become headteacher for one day. She is the first student to be picked for the challenge as part of the school’s “young headteacher” activity.
According to headteacher Rola Ayoub, the student body responded well to the prospect of having one of their own take on the role of leading the school. Ghida was happy to accept the challenge. She was nominated as the ideal candidate by her teachers who cited her leadership qualities and her good academic achievement.
“My classmates were very happy and enthusiastic about the idea that one of them would lead the school for a day,” says Ghida. “While the honour of heading the school gave me great satisfaction and confidence, I also felt a great responsibility on my shoulders. I wanted my day as headteacher to be perfect.”
On the day, Rola Ayoub handed over the reigns to Ghida in the early morning and it was then up to Ghida to make sure the school ran smoothly. She spent the day fulfilling the duties of the headteacher, including making the rounds of the classrooms, attending meetings with teachers, parents and students, as well as receiving phone calls at the headteacher’s desk.
“I worked very hard during my day as head teacher, but I enjoyed it,” says Ghida. “The activity has helped build my self-confidence.
“I think all the schools should do something similar to encourage a spirit of leadership in their students.”
Rola Ayoub shares these sentiments. She says: “At Nablus school we aim to build future leaders, people who are good communicators and are responsible members of society. We want our students to be self-motivated and capable of making independent, creative decisions in life.”
Nurturing these qualities is particularly important in the context of the challenges faced by Palestine refugees in Lebanon. Access to the employment market remains severely restricted and living conditions in camps are often bad.