Salam, Failte and Welcome to the ‘Educational Committee for Derry Friends of Palestine’ school twinning information page.

The “Link for Learning” program was designed and created by the Derry Friends of Palestine Educational Committee. We work through the Gaza coordinator in Ireland who facilitates the program with the Ministry of Education in Gaza.

HELPING CHILDREN THROUGH CULTURAL LINKS:
Lack of basic school supplies like pencils, pens and paper are not allowed into Gaza, even books. Aside from the effects of the blockade on these children, they also feel very isolated. Many have lost their homes or families, or even both in the recent war. They need some respite in their daily lives.

This program helps to break the isolation these children feel, and it gives them something to enjoy and look forward to, meeting new friends in other schools in far away countries. It is also beneficial to our own children. Understanding each other is the key to our collective future on this planet. And we aim to pursue this understanding by way of twinning schools in Ireland with schools in Palestine. We are breaking the isolation one child at a time, to gain an understanding of other cultures and to promote tolerance, acceptance and friendship despite our cultural differences.

THE PROGRAM:
Our program is in line with the DEA’s document The Global Dimension in the Curriculum – Northern Ireland, which states that:

‘The effective teaching of the global dimension can enable young people to understand the interconnectedness in the world and the positive role that they can play in today’s global society and actively promote social justice, equality and sustainable development.’

In order to deliver this objective, we have developed a scheme of work in accordance with the Revised Curriculum for Northern Ireland. To facilitate this educational package, we have developed close links with appropriate schools in Gaza through the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (Gaza).

We believe that this education program brings comprehensive and mutual benefits to schools involved. Students will develop an awareness of the environmental, social and cultural aspects of their own and another region, which will allow them to gain an understanding and sense of place in a global context.

This scheme considers the key elements of the Revised Curriculum for Northern Ireland and incorporates its objectives. It can be delivered by schools using existing technologies and minimal expenditure.
The program is student driven; the classroom teacher is the facilitator in the linked school. The program is set out into sections, which begin with an introduction to, and from, the linked or twinned schools. This contains information about each school along with photos of both schools and both classes. This is followed by personal contact between students as they share information about each other and begin the process of learning about each other’s cultures, history, cities, towns and countries.

This serves two purposes. For the Irish school students not only learn about the history, culture, towns, cities and country of Palestine, but in order to work the program they also learn about their own Irish history, culture, towns, cities and country, and vice versa. This makes learning fun and interesting.

If your school has Video Conferencing facilities the program can end with a live link up video conference between the Irish school and the school in Palestine/Gaza. Or, in lieu of a live link, a video exchange between the two classrooms can take place. During the live link or video exchange, each side demonstrates, through a presentation, special parts of their culture, such as poetry, music, dance or art or photos of places in their town. The children then tell about these things during the live link or video exchange.

OPERATING THE PROGRAM:
Schools interested in using our program should contact us with questions. If your school wishes to proceed, we will then set up an appointment where one of our Educational Committee members will meet with a representative of your school to go over the program and answer any other operational questions you may have. They can give first hand knowledge of how the program operated in their pilot schools and the benefits running the program.

We will match your school to a school in Gaza, matching the age and sex of our students, e.g. all girls school or all boys school. Your school will then receive an email address, this email address is used throughout the program by both schools. The program then begins via the coordinator who ensures the work which is covered in the program passes between the two schools and to deal with any questions or technical problems that may arise during the program. Our Educational Committee, teachers and coordinator, are here to help and we want both schools to have an enjoyable learning experience. The program will end with a live link up between both schools where the students will interact. This will be fully explained in detail at the set up meeting for those schools implementing our program.

PILOT PROGRAM:
We have already had two successful Pilot Programs in Derry. The Educational Committee is currently in consultations to further improve the program for the fall term of 2011 and the 2012 school year.

SIGN UP:
We are taking requests from schools that may be interested in implementing our program. This will be on a first come first served basis and we already have one school on our waiting list. Those interested should email us at link@derryfriendsofpalestine.org to add your schools name on our list and to arrange for a meeting

COST:
Currently Derry Friends of Palestine Educational Committee are charging no fee for using our program or facilitating it. Although there is no fee, we would encourage schools that enjoy using our program and who appreciate the work we do, to make a donation so that we may continue our work and expand the program. We do have some requirements pertaining to security, publicity and copyright of our program, which we will cover at the initial meeting. Any further questions you are very welcome to contact us at link@derryfriendsofpalestine.org

Please enjoy our photo gallery below of respected people who support our program:

Link for Learning Presentation to Mayor

Mayor of Derry Paul Fleming presented with the first copy of the “Link for Learning” Program at our launch.


Rabbi Brian Walt, from Rabbi’s for Human Rights and Jewish Fast for Gaza in Derry meeting with members of the Educational Committee.