8 Facts about Computer Usage in Palestine, 6 Ways TYO Fills the Gaps

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Just recently, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics published a report about access to technology in Palestinian homes entitled: Household Survey on Information and Communications Technology, 2014. At TYO, we understand the great value and importance IT literacy plays in today’s modern age. As such, the findings from the report are surprising – as access to technology around the world is growing, Palestine is still far behind. The following are 8 starling facts about the current computer usage in Palestine:

  1. 36.9% of households in Palestine don’t own a computer
  2. 51.7% of households have no internet access
  3. 20.4% of children ages 10-14 do not have any access to a computer
  4. 45.2% of females in Palestine do not use computers
  5. 45.3% of Palestinians use the internet to study
  6. 17.9% of Palestinians use the internet at school/university
  7. 10.6% of Palestinians use free public internet at youth centers
  8. 39.1% of children living in refugee camps, ages 5-17, do not use computers
Core AM girl computer

A five year-old Core Child Program participant in the IT lab

How can TYO strive to ensure we’re filling the gaps for children, women and youth in Palestine with little-to-no access to computers or the internet? In Nablus, we not only have noticed a strong need for computer literacy, but also a strong desire from people of all ages in learning more about computers. In direct response, TYO implements IT lab classes, seminars and trainings in every single one of our programs! Here are 6 specific ways that TYO aims to provide IT education for all:

  1. Basic computer functions and operation lessons for children 4-5 years old, aiming to improve upon their small motor skills.
  2. Game-based ESL computer programs for children 6-8 years old, working to strengthen their mastery of the English language.
  3. Internet research-based computer activities for adolescents 9-15 years old, striving to foster healthy and educational relationships with computers and the internet.
  4. Essential Microsoft Office programs for women and mothers, seeking to empower Palestine’s primary caregivers’ knowledge in IT literacy, programs, and the needed tools to protect their families.
  5. Business IT trainings for aspiring female entrepreneurs, building upon their budgeting, marketing and social media skills to strengthen their businesses.
  6. Employability skills for youth and university students, teaching seminars on CV/resume writing, cover letter writing, and tools for online job searching.
Intern kids on computer

12 year old program participants work together to learn about search engines

To learn more about TYO and the IT programs we offer to Nablus’ most disadvantaged beneficiaries, learn about the success of IT in the International Internship Program, CV clinics for university students, business IT classes for FWEME participants, and social media & internet safety tips for mothers.

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Teacher Bias: Are we discouraging girls from math and science?

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Sara gets help on her math homework at the TYO center

Sara gets help on her math homework at the TYO center

Have you noticed that women are often underrepresented in math and science jobs? Have you ever wondered why? A new study shows that early childhood experience make a substantial impact on higher education choices youth make. More specifically, “elementary school seems to be a critical juncture” for children and teacher bias. And while it may be unconscious, it plays a huge role in a child’s future.

As a part of the study, researchers monitored school students over a period of seven years, from sixth grade until the end of high school. In the process, students took a series of various exams. One exam was graded by people who did not know the children’s identities and the other exam was graded by teachers who knew their names. Findings proved that the girls outperformed the boys in the math exam when it was graded anonymously, but when the teachers knew the students’ names, the boys outscored the girls. They found that this was unique to the math and science subjects and not the case for other subjects, including English.

By the end of the study, “researchers concluded that in math and science, the teachers overestimated the boys’ abilities and underestimated the girls’, and this had long-term effects on students’ attitudes toward the subjects.” Furthermore, the study points out that when the same students reached junior high and high school, their performance on the national exams were analyzed and “the boys who had been encouraged when they were younger, performed significantly better.” The researchers also tracked the students’ interest in enrolling in advanced science and math courses in high school. While controlling for other factors that may have swayed their decision-making, they concluded that “the girls who had been discouraged by their elementary school teachers were much less likely than the boys to take advanced courses” in these subjects

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Girls eagerly look on at an experiment in TYO intern Mary Jo’s Mad Science class

While these may be alarming findings, it’s important for teachers and parents to continue giving their children – girls and boys – encouragement when tackling these subjects. As a community, TYO’s teachers, interns, volunteers and staff try to better promote science and math skills in the classroom. We believe that every child has the potential for greatness.

 

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Boys vs Girls: Who is Falling Behind?

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Boy & GirlDo boys outperform girls in school? Are girls more likely to continue higher education? Who is falling behind?

According to NPR, girls are outperforming boys “in math, science and reading in 70 percent of the 70-plus countries and regions surveyed by the Organization for Economic Development Cooperation and Development.” The article continues, “Girls do better even in countries that rank low on U.N.’s gender equality index and that tend to discriminate against women politically, economically and socially — like Qatar, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.”

This is a problem plaguing Palestine too. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reports that “8.9% of males aged (15-29) years hold a university degree compared to 12.2% of females in the same age group. A further 3.0% of males had not completed any educational stage compared to 1.5% of females in the age group of (15-29) years.” Statistics are showing that boys throughout the world are overwhelmingly under performing. Psychologist David Geary at University of Missouri-Columbia assess that there are a few possible reasons behind this:

  1. Difficulty with the structure of the school day. “It’s tough for all kids to sit down and pay attention for six, seven hours but it’s generally harder for boys,” says Geary. “Boys are a little bit more active behaviorally and so sitting still requires a little more effort.” What can schools do to better cater to hyperactive children? Better integrating recess or physical education may “help them pay better attention in class.”
  2. Dropping out to join the workforce. Boys who drop out of school tend to do so in order to make income. Whether they want to earn money to help support their families or they “get much more prestige when they are out working… than being a student.”

At TYO, we definitely see how these factors can hold young boys back. In Nablus, schools don’t provide students with ample time for active learning. That means students are learning through rote memorization with little-to-no extracurricular activities to help break up their day. TYO offers children a safe outlet to participate in a variety of non-formal play and education.

Additionally, Many children in Nablus, especially pre-teen and teenage boys, are opting to work instead of continuing their schooling. This is very prevalent among the communities TYO works with, particularly in refugee camps, as young boys are often pressured work to help their families make ends meet. TYO strives to keep boys and girl academically on track by implementing Homework Help classes into its programming and by informing parents of the dangers of child labor.

While boys are struggling, we can’t forget that girls too are still struggling for their right to education. Changu Mannathoko, senior education adviser at UNICEF reminds us that “in the poorest nations, gender discrimination keeps millions of girls from getting an education in the first place. Many of them are at risk of being attacked while going to school or have to drop out and take care of the house.”

It’s clear that despite gender, both boys and girls in the developing world face the risk of falling behind. At TYO, we do everything we can to ensure #EducationForAll.

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The MENA region’s investment in ECD is among the lowest in the world

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Countless research shows that best investment a community can make is in early childhood interventions and early childhood development (ECD). In fact, according to the World Bank, research shows that “investments in ECD significantly improve a child’s health, learning ability, future earnings, and life expectancy.” However according to a recent publication by the World Bank Group, Expanding Opportunities for the Next Generation: Early Childhood Development in the Middle East and North Africa, “the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s investment in early childhood development is among the lowest in the world.”

The research presents very sobering statistics about a substantial deterioration in children’s early social, emotional, and cognitive development, in the West Bank and Gaza. The research finds that in 2010, a mere 58% of children aged 3-4 experienced four or more activities that support child development. Among children ages 0-4, families were less likely to engage them in critical cognitive development activities:

  • 20% of children have had books (or picture books) read to them.
  • 38% of children have stories told to them by family members.
  • 42% of children have had families engage with them in activities of naming, counting, and drawing.

Similarly, parents in the West Bank and Gaza are not providing their children with adequate early childhood care and education (ECCE). According to the 2013 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2010, a devastating 15% of children ages 3-4 years old attend such programs. Further hindering the healthy development of children is violent discipline. UNICEF reveals that violent discipline negatively impacts the physical, psychological, and social development of children, which is far too common in the West Bank and Gaza. The report states that 92% of 2-4 year olds have been violently disciplined.

Socio-economic status of a family also affects a child’s ability to thrive. In the West Bank and Gaza, “it is children from the most advantaged backgrounds who are attending ECCE, despite the fact that early childhood education has the greatest benefits for disadvantaged and vulnerable children.” Unfortunately, “a least advantaged child has a 13% chance of attending ECCE and a most advantaged child has a 58% chance.” In Nablus specifically, only 34.4% of children ages 3-4 attended ECCE programming.

What does TYO do to help fill the gaps? 

TYO’s Core Child Program, our ECD programming for children ages 4-8 years old, serves the most disadvantaged families in the Nablus areas and implements high-quality programs and curricula. All of our programs and transportation needs are completely free of charge to our beneficiaries, making ECCE and enrichment programs accessible to even the most vulnerable populations. Our Core Child Program also focuses on a wide array of innovative and cognitive learning activities including: storytelling, the concentration corner and the imagination room. We also supplement these activities with art therapy, sports classes, IT, Arabic and ESL classes.

Through The Women’s Group (TWG), TYO’s programs also train current and future parents in economic, personal and parenting skills. In TWG, we often focus on healthy child discipline protocols, helping mothers understand the dangers and long-term impact on a child’s psyche, as a result of violent punishment.

Believing every family deserves the chance to succeed, we promote healthy and productive relationships between parents and their children.

TYO Hug

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Youth in focus: An interview with Hadeer K.

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Hadeer K. is from Nablus. She graduated in 2012 from An-Najah National University with a degree in Applied Chemistry.

Hadeer Kukhun

What made you apply for STEP!?

I was interested in applying for STEP! to improve my communication skills. I had previously read about TYO’s work and liked its approach and I was interested in developing my English language skills as well.

What new skills have your learned through the program?

The most important skills I learned were communication and team-building skills. Through the program, I worked with children and communicated with them to teach them complex concepts in simple ways. It was helpful to work with a teaching group.

What are your career goals and do you feel that STEP! helped you get closer to those goals?

I’m panning to work in my field and to continue my studies. TYO helped me to gain professional work experience, taught me how to write a CV, and helped me improve on my communication skills.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for youth like you in the current labor market?

The biggest challenge is in finding a job because it rarely happens. It can also be challenging to gain experiences in our work field (for me, thats chemistry) in an attempt to better prepare ourselves for the job market.

-Interview conducted by Volunteer Coordinator, Ruba Hafayda

This program is funded by the Abdel Hameed Shoman Foundation (AHSF)

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Youth in focus: An interview with Tasneem S.

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Tasneem S. is from Nablus. She hopes to one day to study at a university.

Tasneem

What made you apply for STEP?!

I was interested in applying for STEP! in order to gain working experience. I also like children and was looking for a way to make use of my free time. This was my first time ever volunteering and it was impactful.

What new skills have your learned through the program?

The most important part of the program for me was being able to experience volunteering with and working daily at an organization. I also learned so much from my fellow youth volunteers. I became really inspired by them as most of them are university students or graduates.

What are your career goals and do you feel that STEP! helped you get closer to those goals?

I’m panning to retake my Tawjihi exam and then go on to study Elementary Education at university. TYO helped me gain experience in teaching children and helping them to understand challenging subjects through play. I’m planning to continue volunteering at TYO while studying at university, in order to help prepare myself for my future career.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for youth like you in the current labor market?

I have no experience working in the job market and this is my first experience working with peers and colleagues. I don’t really know what challenges I may face but I’m preparing myself now to better understand the job market by working as a volunteer in my community.

-Interview conducted by Volunteer Coordinator, Ruba Hafayda

This program is funded by the Abdel Hameed Shoman Foundation (AHSF)

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Youth in focus: An interview with Niveen D.

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Niveen D. is from Talooza. She graduated from Al-Quds Open University with a degree in Community Development.

Niveen Darawsheh

Niveen supports children during their morning warm-up

What made you apply for STEP?!

I was interested in applying for STEP! to gain experience in voluntary work and to learn more about how organizations work. I was also interested in learning how to work with kids to support and help them.

What new skills have your learned through the program?

The most important skill I learned is time management because I now know how to better manage and divide my time. I also improved my leadership skills by leading activities and groups of children in the classroom. Working with the Core Child Program Teachers was especially rewarding because they helped me discover my ability to understand the needs of children ages four and five.

What are your career goals and do you feel that STEP! helped you get closer to those goals?

I’m panning to work in my field of study, Community Development, because I like working with children and youth. TYO helped me broaden my experience in understanding children and also in teaching them both soft and hard skills through play. It was helpful to understand their needs and in order to better support them.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for youth like you in the current labor market?

I think that the biggest challenge is the lack of job opportunities and the restrictions employers place on age. I’m a recent graduate but I’m 32 years old, which has negatively impacted my chance of securing a job.

-Interview conducted by Volunteer Coordinator, Ruba Hafayda

This program is funded by the Abdel Hameed Shoman Foundation (AHSF)

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Youth in focus: An interview with Hadia A.

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Hadia A. is from Nablus. She graduated in 2014 from An-Najah National University with a degree in Social Work and Sociology.

Hadia Al-Shaf'i

Hadia helps a child in the IT lab

What made you apply for STEP!?

I was interested in applying for STEP! in order to gain experience in dealing with children and to learn more about their needs and the problems they face. I knew I would find the program both personally and professionally rewarding – especially because of my academic background in social work, a career I hope to pursue in the future.

What new skills have your learned through the program?

The most important skill I have learned is team-building skills by working in groups in the classroom with children. I have also improved my leadership skills by supporting children and groups during activities. Also, I’ve been able to learn more about the much needed skills in the field of Social Work and how to be objective in dealing with others.

What are your career goals and do you feel that STEP! helped you get closer to those goals?

I’m planning to work in my field of study as a social worker. TYO’s STEP! program helped me gain experience in working with children – especially with children ages four and five years old, as I had never worked with this age group previously. I now have a much better idea of how to work with them in the future, how to solve their problems and how to understand them more.

 What do you think is the biggest challenge for youth like you in the current labor market?

I think that the biggest challenge is that they cannot easily find jobs. Now, people rely on “wasta” or nepotism to secure a job and we feel that if we don’t have a strong connections or networks, we cannot get a job easily.

-Interview conducted by Volunteer Coordinator, Ruba Hafayda

This program is funded by the Abdel Hameed Shoman Foundation (AHSF)

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Youth in Focus: An interview with Hanaa N.

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Hanaa N. is from Nablus. She graduated in 2012 from An-Najah National University with a degree in Bio-Technology.

Hana

 What made you apply for STEP?!

I was interested in applying for STEP! because I saw it as an opportunity to get real-world experience in the workplace. As I’ve already graduated, I want to be able to step into my first job already understanding the basics of what is expected in the workplace so I can build a solid foundation for my career.

What new skills have your learned through the program?

So far, the most important skill I’ve learned is how to deal with children in an appropriate manner. Related to this, I’ve learned how important it is to plan activities and prepare ahead before doing anything. Being prepared for class isn’t just a matter of knowing what activities will be done, but it’s also having alternative ideas in case things don’t go as planned. Being well prepared definitely helps to increase confidence as well, as it reduces the chance of being caught off guard in class.

What are your career goals and do you feel that STEP! helped you get closer to those goals?

My experience at TYO has helped me by improving my confidence and communication skills. As a woman coming from a very traditional family, I was initially met with a lot of resistance when I started volunteering at TYO because my family didn’t understand why this was important to me. However, being at TYO has helped build my confidence which is really important on a personal level as it helps me to defend my choices when people at home disagree with me.  Finally, I believe volunteering at TYO has helping me to improve my presentation skills which I know will be important at any job in the future.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for youth like you in the current labor market?

The biggest challenge for the recent graduates is the existence of wasta i.e. personal connections. I’ve tried many times to find employment opportunities but couldn’t because other people had their own connections with the decision maker. This system  deprives otherwise qualified candidates from getting a job.

-Interview conducted by Volunteer Coordinator, Ruba Hafayda

This program is funded by the Abdel Hameed Shoman Foundation (AHSF)

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Reflecting on Progress in the Core Child Program

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Mahmoud with children in his Core AM class

With the end of the Fall Core Child Program session almost in sight, it is a good time to reflect back on the last 11 weeks to assess the progress children have made throughout the session. Oftentimes, no place is this more clear than in the halls of the Core AM program. As is oft reported, the first weeks of the program can be jarring for our 4 and 5 year old children- both new and returning to TYO. For many of them, this marks the first time in their young lives that they are spending time away from their families- and in some cases away from their refugee camps. Children must get used to being in a new environment with new guardians, new friends coming from parts of Nablus unfamiliar to them, and new experiences. To help children adjust, TYO emphasizes the importance of providing children with a consistent structure throughout their time at TYO- this means meeting every day at the same time, in the same place, following the same teacher, and even walking in straight single file lines as they move class to class (although anyone who has been in TYO the first week of the program can attest the lines are never quite straight at first!). Adjusting to the new environment unusually involves a lot of crying, pushing and shoving in line, and silly fighting over ‘who took whose’ crayons in Arabic class. This is why week 11 of the program- which focuses on Peaceful Problem Solving- can be a particularly rewarding week for the Core Child Teachers- as it allows them to really observe how far their children have come in such a short amount of time.

Core Child Teacher Mahmoud shares a proud moment from his class:

There was one child in my morning class who had been the source of many problems early on in the session. He’s a sweet kid, but very hyperactive with a tendency towards violence- pushing, shoving, and pinching other children when he didn’t get his way. Throughout the session I’ve been working with this child to control his reactions to situations and explain the importance of respecting his peers— while trying to model what respectful behavior looks like. But just this week I was both shocked and so proud when this same child took the initiative to come up to me and say, ‘Amo, someone hit me in line– but I swear I didn’t hit him back– can you please come and help me?’ Though sometimes it can seem like progress is slow- events like this make me realize that we really are successfully rooting the foundations of respectful behavior with our children. It’s a great moment to realize when your teaching has been the source of positive change for a child. Sometimes it’s easy to think I’m only helping one child, but looking around it becomes so clear how this child’s improved behavior effects the entire environment around him. It’s a true honor to be working in an environment where I know we are helping to build a stronger community by teaching our children values.

-Mahmoud Saleh, Core Child Teacher & Jessica Dargiel, Deputy Director

This program is funded by the Abdel Hameed Shoman Foundation (AHSF)

 

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