The Palestinian Authority pays teachers’ salaries but contributes very little towards running costs or any extra-curricular facilities. Parents, many on the poverty line, are unable to pay for any extras. Supporters and volunteers have been helping village schools in Burin and Madama in the West Bank (Occupied Palestinian Territories) since 2010. Once the Olive Harvest Trust became officially registered in March 2015, we have ensured constant contact with the schools. Every autumn during the olive harvest, trustees visit the schools, check on ongoing or completed projects and discuss future needs with the heads.
Lap-tops to Madama Boys’ School – Trustees delivered three brand new laptops (bought locally in Ramallah) to Ayed Al-Qot, the headmaster. Again they were hugely appreciated as funds from the Palestinian Authority do not stretch to such ‘luxuries’. They will be used by teachers to prepare lessons and research. Funds were also given to the school for black-out curtains for the computer room and some new bookshelves.
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English language books – delivered! The October 2017 harvest trip also saw a hand-delivery by trustees and volunteers of dozens of brand new English books for adolescents. The eclectic selection ranged from Michael Morpurgo to Shakespeare and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. The Burin Community School’s English teachers, Mounir and Feras, were thrilled to have such quality books in pristine condition.
It was agreed to help fund a second awning on the far side of the playground (following the 2015 contribution) at Burin Community School. This was completed in January 2017 at a total cost of £6,000, about two-thirds of which came from the OHT. It was constructed by local craftsmen, so fuelling the local economy. The location of the awning between the playground and the football pitch makes it ideal for sheltering spectators during matches and students during break times – rain or shine. A plaque was attached in memory of Nick Shipton, a regular volunteer harvester, who died unexpectedly in the UK in 2016.
Trustees visited the Burin Community School to meet the headmaster, Ibrahim Oman (better known as Abu Ameer). His priority was to extend the weather protective canopy outside the classrooms (as shown below after completion). A section of 10 metres had already been constructed and the Olive Harvest Trust provided £2,000 needed for an additional 20 metres.
Madama Boys School Since 2010 we have been working with headmaster, Ayed Al-Qot, to improve conditions at the Madama Boys’ School. To date we have raised money to build two extra school rooms and buy equipment for the science laboratory. Rania Shtayeh, the science teacher, told us that the lack of equipment for practical experiments was affecting the boys’ tawhiji (A levels) results and choice of further study. Surveys show that not enough Palestinian students are doing science and engineering at tertiary level.
Our other early projects provided computers, books and sports equipment for the Girls’ School in Madama as well as table tennis equipment for the village school in Ammoria (below).