In June 2008 the SOS Nursery School included 89 students which was reduced to 80 students for the fall 2008 school year. This reduction was due to the fact that our true capacity is only 80 students and previously we had over-enrolled our classrooms. The 80 students are spread out between four different classrooms. The nursery school renewed its five year license with the Ministry of Education this year.
The major activities for the year include: birthday celebrations, Mother’s Day, Parent-Student Visit Day, celebration of religious and national holidays, educational field-trips, parent-teacher conferences, and provision of healthy meals to our students. The nursery school continues to participate in and create diverse activities for our students to help develop their capacities and prepare them for a bright educational future. Our goal is to provide individualised support to children based on their needs.
The major achievements for the year include: a graduation ceremony for our children that was hosted in our school yard that was attended by the Ministry of Education’s Nursery School Department, students’ families, and teaching staff. Our nursery school also prepared several events around the annual olive harvest events that connected our students with an ancient Palestinian tradition.
The SOS Nursery School visited several sites within the community, such as a bakery, the police station, and the SOS Children’s Village Bethlehem. This not only prepared and familiarised our children with many different aspects of life but also familiarised the community with our nursery school and our students (many of whom are SOS children).
This year work was done to improve the follow-up with parents on how to support academic development of their children. The snacks received by students in the school were improved to be healthier. The curriculum for Nursery School 5 was changed to include the basics of the English language in very early stages. In addition new learning corners were obtained for all the classrooms to encourage children learning using various different senses. The nursery school also acquired a new computer, printer, and replaced the glass doors and sinks in the bathrooms.
SOS Primary School Bethlehem
The SOS Primary School opened in 1998. The school has 250 pupils in 6 classes including one for children with learning difficulties.
Update from 2008
In June 2008 the school year closed with 370 students serving grades 1-8. The fall 2008 school year began with 413 students serving grades 1-9. This increase of 43 students represents an 11.6% increase in capacity. The pass rate for students this year is 98%. Children of SOS staff attend the school at 50% reduction in tuition fees while a reduction is also offered to families who have more then two children enrolled. A total of ten students were offered full or partial scholarships based on extreme social circumstances. These funds were raised by the fundraising officer from donors in the Gulf; donors have expressed an interest to continue funding such scholarships in the future.
The school renewed its license from the Ministry of Education for another five years of operation. The school was selected as one of 20 finalists to participate in the Model School Network Programme (MSN) run by AMIDEAST and funded by USAID. MSN is a four-year programme focused on developing a model for improving the quality of education in English, Science, and Math. Our students also participate in many competitions run by the Ministry of Education and boast first places in a running race and second place in a short story competition. Our teachers also participate in regular workshops and training hosted by the Ministry of Education. Our teachers remain a part of the Bethlehem University ‘Improving the Quality of Teaching Programme’ that has provided valuable knowledge and resources to our school, including a donation of 10,000NIS.
The school maintains a positive relationship with the French Consulate who donated 1,000EURO this year to support the acquirement of a computer and French learning materials which are now located in the library. In addition three of our teachers of French traveled to France for three weeks to attend training under the auspices of the French Consulate. Students continued to participate in the Educational Club with the Environmental Education Centre at Talita Tarquomia School. At the end of the 2007/8 school year a festival was held in the school complete with a science fair that all students and teachers participated in fully.
After identifying specific children with special needs and the visit of a special needs teacher from the UK over the summer it was decided to create a small class within the school to address special needs. The salary for this teacher was raised by the fundraising officer and there are plans to put this in place permanently in the school. The class addresses students with special needs in core subjects (Arabic, English, Math) and they return to their regular classrooms for other subjects. A total of 37 students are still a part of the Educational Club which offers extra tutoring to students who have particular weaknesses in specific subjects (English, Arabic, Math, & Science).
For the fall 2008 academic school year our school began a specialised Music Programme funded by a private donor in Kuwait. Funds were used to hire a music teacher and acquire musical instruments for the classroom. At present the music teacher is only able to work part-time offering one music session a week to grades 1-5. Music will be introduced to the older grades more gradually as the teacher is able to offer full-time or a second part-time teacher is hired.
In addition a grant in the amount of 44,779USD over three years was received by HSBC’s Future First Fund to construct a library in the school. The first year consists of 24,873USD and was used to carpet, paint, buy shelves, tables, chairs, librarian salary, librarian desk, LCD & screen, and books for the library. Some books were also donated by Book Aid International through the British Council. The library is now available to be used for classes and will be a valuable resource for our students. The Pontifical Mission of Jerusalem donated 4,500USD to support school activities.
Construction continued in the school to build an external bathroom for the playground while plans still remain in place to continue expansion for future plans to expand the school until the 12th grade.
SOS Nursery School Rafah
There are two SOS Nursery Schools associated with the SOS Children Village at Rafah, one located on-site at the SOS Children's Village Rafah and a second one located in Khan Younis. The SOS Nursery School Rafah hosts a total of 367 students, 12 of whom are from the village itself. SOS Nursery School Khan Younis hosts a total of 191 students all from outside of the village; making for a total of 558 nursery school students in total.
This year efforts were made to further integrate SOS Nursery School into the SOS Children's Village Rafah activities to promote a strong SOS Children’s Village family atmosphere among all facilities and programmes. Teachers prepared singing, dancing, and skit performances for all SOS Nursery School students to present at the Mother’s Day celebration in the village. In addition SOS Nursery School students participated in the Child Carnival in honor of Palestinian Child Day. They performed two songs which earned the audiences admiration.
SOS Nursery Schools are extremely sought after and popular within their communities which bode well for our success in offering early education to these young students.
The SOS Primary School opened in 2001. The school has about 150 pupils in 7 classes. It is ranked as one of the best schools in Gaza Strip
Update from 2008
The SOS Children's Village Rafah runs one primary school, which houses 190 students, 98 of whom are from CV Rafah itself with the remaining from the greater Rafah community. In the 2007/8 academic school year all students passed their course work with an average pass rate of 83%. This high pass rate continued into the first term of the fall 2008 academic school year and as a result a party was held to honor the students for their high marks. The village director thanked all the students for their hard effort to achieve success and all students were honoured with awards and praised for their good work.
As part of Qattan Child Associations summer activities, 80 of our students were invited to attend a mini-summer camp in August. The summer camp lasted for five days and covered three major topics of art, movies, and reading/library. The last day of the summer camp a part was held where clowns put on a comedic show, sang songs, and hosted competitions for the children.
SOS Future School is striving to improve the academic achievement of our students through partnership with the local government to provide explanatory courses. Both the Arabic language teacher and education advisor attended a series of trainings to explore various teaching methods to improve students understanding and absorption of knowledge. This new information was initially implemented with our 6th grade Arabic language curriculum.
This year special attention was also paid to address students’ difficulties from the root of the problem while they are still young. Under the supervision of the village director the school principal and an educational specialist set an education plan to facilitate improvement in the curriculum to make space for children with difficulties. According to this new plan teachers will focus on core subjects (Arabic, English, Science, Math) to ensure that young students (grades 1-4) are receiving the very basics in order to build on more complex knowledge for future schooling. This plan was formed to ease students into the educational process so that they can concentrate on essential skills and information that should be at the core of any young mind. This educational plan should be evaluate at the end of the 2008/9 academic school year to ascertain its effectiveness.
There is a strong co-operation between SOS School and UNRWA school in Rafah. UNRWA schools offered a one week training course to our students in order to prepare them for the annual UNRWA poetry and talent show. In addition CV Rafah provided UNRWA with necessary materials for the talent show which will be returned to them once the competition is done (costumes, props, etc…).