United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools in the West Bank received top awards from the British Council’s prestigious International School Award (ISA) programme for 2015 in recognition of their efforts to bring the wider world into the classroom. All 25 UNRWA schools in the West Bank have received awards for their ‘Connecting Schools’ initiative and will receive certificates and plaques.
The ISA aims to recognize, celebrate, develop, and encourage successful practices in curriculum-based international work in schools. Through ISA, participating UNRWA schools have established partnerships with 50 schools in other countries in the Arab region and other parts of the world through the use of information and communications technology (ICT) and multimedia. About 10,000 students and 600 teachers were involved in ISA activities in 2015, working with local community organizations and NGOs.
The UNRWA schools’ international work includes projects with the partner schools, whereby students share ideas and learn from each other about common global issues, such as human rights, heritage, environment, traditions and other cultural topics. The experiences of UNRWA students with their peers from the partner schools have also furthered their appreciation and understanding of diverse cultures and languages.
Palestine refugee children participating in ISA are also given have the opportunity to develop their understanding of the responsibility they have as individuals, not just in their schools, but globally as well. Adding an international dimension to the children’s education helps them to act as engaged global citizens and prepare them for successful future careers in an increasingly global economy. The ISA has also enhanced the students’ achievements by exposing them to the strategies of self-learning, active learning and learning through projects and widening their horizons in tackling local and global problems, such as smoking, human rights, climate change, tourism, poverty, recycling, water conversation and child labour.
Dana al-Ghaleez, a 14-year-old student from Jalazone refugee camp, said: “The activities of this award have promoted a spirit of cooperation and community among students. We were able to participate in different activities aimed at exchanging experiences with others and serving our community. These activities have helped us to express ourselves.”
Commenting on this achievement, an UNRWA teacher from the UNRWA Girls School in Jalazone, said: “Participating in this award has motivated us and developed our communication skills through the use of social media. It has also enabled us to establish international friendships so that we can exchange ideas and experiences. Being part of this award has strengthened my self-confidence and ability to design different unsystematic activities for the interest of my students, school and community.”
Alaa’ Asi, another UNRWA teacher participating in ISA, expressed his happiness regarding this achievement, saying: “This award was a result of strong collective work, and it has given us great motivation to work hard and allowed a great number of teachers to participate in implementing different activities. This award has also promoted the active participation of students in unsystematic activities.”
UNRWA schools in the West Bank have participated in the Connecting Schools initiative since 2013. The British Council International School Award started in 1999 to recognize the schools leading the way in instilling and developing a global dimension in the learning experiences of all children and young people.