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Teaching the world’s fastest calculators: Mathematical triumph in Syria
Enthusiastic and passionate, Hala is a mathematics teacher at the UNRWA Al-Ramleh School in Homs camp, Syria. With 20 years of teaching experience, Hala knows the importance of education in improving the lives of Palestine refugee children in Syria. She has spent the past two decades helping her students fulfill their potential.
To help children succeed, Hala creates a positive learning environment in her UNRWA classroom. Many of her students find mathematics challenging, so Hala strives to apply patience and interactive methods to ensure that her students understand the topic at hand. "I really want my classes to be fun and entertaining," she says. With her unique teaching style, Hala expands her students’ capability to problem solve with confidence, inspiring them to love the subject.
In Syria, more than half of UNRWA classrooms have been damaged due to the conflict. Although security issues are a pressing concern, UNRWA remains committed to the implementation of its Education Reform Strategy. This includes the successful implementation of the following flagship teacher development programmes: the School Based Teacher Development (SBTD I and II) programmes for teachers and the Leading for the Future (LftF) programme, for the school principals and deputy school principals. These programmes enable teachers to explore new approaches in the classroom and reflect on their impact. Continuous support from the EU contributes to the success of UNRWA education programming and empowers teachers like Hala to provide quality education, even in the most trying circumstances.
Hala joined a training course to equip herself to deliver mental arithmetic and was awarded a training certificate. She began by conducting small group mental arithmetic classes for high achievers who showed great interest and were happy to use mental calculation methods. "Each student learns to do calculations in their heads." Hala explained. Afterwards she expanded the group to include children who struggled with mathematics. She found that this improved their motivational levels.
Among her many successes, six of Hala’s students won the International World Mental Calculation Championship in 2021. The competition included 388 student competitors from 44 countries. "I am proud of the outstanding achievements and outcomes that my students achieved!” she said. Her students are now considered as the world’s fastest calculators. “It has been very rewarding to see the opportunity our students have had to widen their skills and aspirations both here in the classroom and in the co-curricular activities. Their results are far above our expectations," Hala concluded. UNRWA and the EU are proud to empower pioneering teachers like Hala, who strive for success despite the challenges and difficulties they face teaching in regions of ongoing conflict.
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