A mobile library project in the West Bank is giving students new opportunities and something special to get excited about. Three mini-libraries created by AMIDEAST with funding from the Boeing Company are currently making a “reading road trip” to primary schools in the West Bank.
The mobile libraries stop at classrooms for two to three weeks at a time with the goal of filling a shortage of English language reading materials that is all too common in Palestinian schools. The shortfall is especially pronounced in refugee camp schools run by the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), such as three schools in Ramallah, where the books arrived in February just in time to greet students returning to classes after a months-long shutdown. The libraries have also spent time recently at public and private schools in Hebron and Ramallah.
Study of English is compulsory for nearly all Palestinian elementary school children. Too often, however, rote teaching methods and outdated materials dampen students’ enthusiasm. In 2007, AMIDEAST began working with 22 primary school teachers of English to help them become more effective teachers of English, introducing them to new teaching techniques and materials. The Boeing-funded Palestinian Certificate in English Teaching (PCET) Program led to the idea of creating mobile libraries that would provide new resources for use by participating teachers in the classroom. To extend their impact, the teachers are sharing these books with other colleagues in their schools. The library project aims to eventually reach over 6,000 primary school students in the West Bank.
While the libraries can’t fill the serious gap in materials at Palestinian schools, they are part of a much larger AMIDEAST effort that is helping to improve learning and teaching in Palestinian schools. That effort includes a multi-year, USAID-funded project to improve basic education at Palestinian schools. In addition, AMIDEAST provides supplemental English language instruction through several special scholarship programs to several thousand Palestinian youth who would otherwise not be able to afford it.