Educated Women in Palestine Remaining Unemployed

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There’s a global trend that more women are pursuing university degrees than men. And in Palestine and the greater Arab world, the same reigns true. The World Bank states that the ratio of female to male tertiary enrollment in the region is 108%. And according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, during the scholastic year of 2012-2013 in Palestine, 81,052 males were pursing higher education degrees at universities versus 120,256 female students who enrolled in university.

While this all sounds extremely promising for the women in the Arab world, a report from the World Bank entitled Jobs for Shared Prosperity: Time for Action in the Middle East and North Africa states that 3 out of 4 women in the Middle East remain outside the labor force. And a report from Brookings (Arab Youth: Missing Educational Foundations for a Productive Life?) confirms that “only about 18% of working-age Arab women actually have jobs.”

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(Click this chart to enlarge the data)

In Palestine in particular, in 2012, a mere 12% of women were working and engaged in the labor force. The chart below, from Brookings, highlights just how poorly Palestine preforms. Palestine ties for the lowest participation rate in the workforce along with Jordan and Algeria, but has the highest female tertiary education enrollment – outperforming countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Bahrain!

Studies report that women reinvest 90% of any income in their family, versus an average 30% among men. In order to effectively leverage this opportunity and help lead the greater Middle East towards a brighter future, women need comprehensive support. So what is being done to help these females not only engage in the workforce but also succeed in it? At TYO, we strive to ensure that women have the right to thrive:

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Learn more about the importance of women’s empowerment at TYO and why it’s so crucial!

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The Multigenerational Approach: Serving Children’s Support Networks

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The World Bank has released a new report entitled: Stepping up Early Childhood Development. Education advocates all over the world talk about the importance of investing in Early Childhood Development (ECD) and that it is “essential for a child’s growth and development. The returns to those interventions also tend to be higher than the returns to investments in human capital taking place later in life.” But more people are pushing for multigenerational approaches to ECD – to best support children, their support networks must also be empowered.

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The report explains that “the wellbeing and involvement of families play a critical role in addressing children’s holistic development needs because young children depend entirely on their families and spend the most time with them in the home environment.” But how can organizations provide support to children through multigenerational interventions? The World Bank report shares these four of many ways we can approach families:

  1. Maternal Education: When females attain high levels of education, it benefits their future children when they become mothers. Educated women are able to make smart decisions about their lives and in the lives of their children.
  2. Family Planning: According to the World Health Organization, a woman’s ability to space and limit her pregnancies has a direct impact on her health and well-being as well as on the outcome of each pregnancy.
  3. Education on Child Development: Reaching parents through parenting support programs and home-visits can promote early stimulation, optimal caregiving, and healthy feeding practices and thereby improve outcomes for children. These programs can deliver messages to parents about the health, growth, and overall development of young children.
  4. Prevention and Treatment of Parental Depression: When parents are depressed, it is likely to have adverse effects on ECD and quality of parenting and therefore treatment of parental depression is important. This is especially prevalent for populations who face regular trauma.

TYO’s multigenerational approach targeting children, youth and parents – makes it one of the most unique centers in the Northern West Bank, tackling these issues head-on in Palestine. The Core Child Program for early childhood education, The Women’s Group for mothers, and the TYO model for family intervention ensure that TYO can meet the needs of children and their support networks.

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International Women’s Day 2015

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Int'l Women's Day 2015

Learn more about International Women’s Day!

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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.

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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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