Update 9: September 2011
We are finally back to school and already full into the renewed and improved AACT project. After a short summer vacation we started full speed with the preparation work for the project. We have now chosen the final four schools to participate in the project according to previously established criteria of the social economic situation of the student population and the commitment of school principals. Two local schools in Shefa-Amr – the Jabour Jabour and “C” elementary schools, in Ibillin the “E” elementary school, and in Tamra the “Albironi” elementary school are now part of the project.
The initial meetings with the principals were highly promising. They all talked about the immense importance of such project for their school and the kind of impact they imagine this can have on students beyond the project scope. The principal in Ibillin, Ms. Taghreed Sheikh Ahmad, spoke about one of her students who had been part of the first AACT pilot and continued to study on a scholarship provided by Beit Almusica. He used to be a shy and introverted kid facing hard times being accepted by peers. At the end of the academic year 2010/2011 he stood up in front of over 500 students and teachers in the school yard and played the clarinet, receiving great applause. As she said, this was one of the most moving moments in her career as educator.
All agreed that music as an art was still widely underestimated in the Palestinian community in Israel. We were actually positively surprised by the welcoming and enthusiastic reaction of the school management stating just how much they were missing this kind of activity. All four schools are state run schools situated on the lowest three clusters of socio economic evaluation in Israel with mixed populations of Muslim, Christian and Druze.
There are several improvements to the first pilot; the first and most important is that the project is now running in two complimentary tracks – music and social development. Beit Almusica is running project management and the musical side including music classes, special workshops and concerts. Our newly found professional partner for the social side is the Duroob Institute for leadership development and social growth. Duroob has extensive experience in working with schools – both with teachers and students – and with populations at risk. In the AACT project, Duroob will work on social evaluations and empowerment, ensuring professional monitoring of the social changes we hope to achieve in children.
Also new and improved in the project is the integration of the different social circles surrounding the children in the project, starting from their families, their teachers to their peers and the music teachers at Beit Almusica. The ultimate aim is to bring about the maximum positive change with the children that will be sustainable with the support of the different environments. The musical focus is on Arabic music and instruments like Qanoon, Oud, Durbaka (percussion) as well as cello, violin and wind instruments.
Over the next two months we will choose the project participants according to both social and musical criteria; get the support of the municipalities and educational authorities and start teaching in November.
Regardless of whether you choose to continue supporting the AACT project with time, money, or good will, we are determined to continue this important work in 2011/2012 and to be great partners with you and responsible and effective stewards of your hope, time and resources.
We are getting ready to go to back to school again: this time not as students but as agents of change. For this purpose we need every support that we could get and the best musical vibrations from around the world.
We look forward to move ahead with the AACT project during the School-Year 2011-2012. This occasion we will address the specific ‘at-risk’ situations that children face within the school framework. In 2011-2012 we aim to reach directly a diverse group of 100 Palestinian children (3rd to 6th grade, ages 8-12 years) and their teachers and families. We will ensure gender balance and the inclusion of different religious backgrounds. The project will take place at 4 local schools in Shefa-Amr, Ibillin, and Tamra indirectly benefiting 2,500 students.
Palestinian children face poor educational opportunities beginning in early childhood, making the deficiencies in the educational system the most worrying issue for the future of Palestinian society in Israel. Shortcomings and risk factors at school become evident in low academic achievements, isolation, troublesome relations with peers and teachers, violence, as well as high school dropout rates and lower matriculation scores, which have detrimental implications on social and economic development of Palestinian children. In addition, students rarely have the opportunity to develop their talents, lack any music-curriculum at schools, and their Palestinian identity and heritage is turned from a source of cultural pride to a source of differentiation and shame.
Therefore, the AACT project nurtures a sense of self-identity and dignity through music education as a positive tool for change for themselves, their schools and the community. The project addresses risk factors at school and a whole range of ‘lacks’ that Palestinian children face, including: music curriculum at schools, meaningful opportunities for the development of artistic talent and cultural expression, access to musical education, resources, services and facilities at high professional standards, as well as perspectives for the future. The program offers a nurturing and supporting environment conductive to the development and well-being of Palestinian children.
“Music gives me power and energy”
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Salma is an average Palestinian child in Israel. She lives under the poverty line in overcrowded conditions and has a fair chance to drop out from a severely substandard school. She has limited access to social, health and public services and is more likely to be injured than the majority of children in Israel. She is not participating in cultural activities and has even less chances to find employment than her brother Ahmad when older.
The number of Palestinian children in situations of risk and distress in Israel is growing at a much faster pace than new programs and social services offered to them. One of the main problems that Palestinian children in Israel face is the alarming socio-economic situation they have to endure. The state of Palestinian children is serious: around 60% are poor and 73% are at poverty risk according to figures published by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
In addition to a substandard school system that lies 20 years behind its Jewish counterpart, Palestinian children in Israel lack meaningful after-school activities conductive to their well-being. This has obvious implications on the social and economic development of the Palestinian population, who has the lowest socio-economic status of all ethnic groups and the highest unemployment rates.
With your generous support, we are working to offer Palestinian children at risk a happier childhood and a perspective for the future.
Through the Affirmative Action for Children Today we support children growing up in circumstances of social and economic disadvantage to reach their full potential through musical education. Musical education benefits children in developing basic skills such as concentration, counting, listening, and cooperation while also promoting understanding of language, improving the ability to recall information, and creating an environment more conductive to learning. Providing children with constructive alternatives for reaching their full human potential contributes towards bringing about positive change for their families and communities.
Regardless of whether you choose to continue supporting the AACT project with time, money, or good will, we are determined to continue this important work in 2011 and to be great partners with you and responsible and effective stewards of your hope, time and resources.
We are approaching a new year and would like to use this opportunity to glance back to 2010. Thanks to your generous donation, we have been able to bring about a positive change in the lives of 60 Palestinian children and their families. In a recent video documentation of the project, children, parents and teachers tell how the AACT project influenced their lives - and reports are most encouraging:
First, we would like to listen to what the children themselves had to say:
“Music gives me power and energy” says one, “Music teaches me patience, understanding and concentration” says another. Children said that music makes them happy, politer and helps them to focus at school. “For me, music is melodies, beautiful melodies. When I play music, I fly in the world of music.”
Olivia used to be very shy. Through the project she gained self confidence, which helped her to stand up for herself. Her family never thought she might be interested in learning music. Now they love the atmosphere that music brings into their home, and believe that each and every household should have a family member that can play music.
Bassem used to be very slow in doing his home work. He had a hard time with writing, because his hands would move only slowly. Thanks to his practice of the clarinet, his hand movements improved significantly. This has enhanced his performance at school. Bassem’s father stressed the importance of the project and the support of the project’s staff for Bassem and the whole family. Now, Bassem talks to his mother with music, and calls her through melodies.
One of the teachers spoke about the huge difference that children underwent from their first music lesson until the last day of the school-year. With accumulating musical knowledge, their academic achievements in school improved; and so did their social contacts and involvement.
We are glad to share with you a short video about the Affirmative Action for Children Today, which promotes bold moves to support children in the clearly disadvantaged Palestinian minority in Israel: 60% of such children live in poverty. The video is available in Arabic on the link: http://www.beit-almusica.org/playvideo.aspx?AlbumID=12
Regardless of whether you choose to continue supporting the AACT project with time, money, or good will, we are determined to continue this important work in 2011 and to be great partners with you and responsible and effective stewards of your hope, time and resources. We would like to take the opportunity to wish you Happy Holydays and a wonderful New Year!
Affirmative Action for Children Today, or AACT in its acronym, promotes bold moves to support children in the clearly disadvantaged Palestinian minority in Israel: 60% of such children live in poverty.
In July and August 2010, an external evaluation of the project took place. The main conclusions of the evaluation report include:
1. The project has a significant impact in promoting the culture and identity as well as strengthening the self-esteem and confidence of those children taking part in the project and their families.
2. AACT contributes towards achieving social change and providing opportunities to disadvantaged communities thus advancing equality.
3. The project’s staff successfully developed positive relations with beneficiaries and other stakeholders such as local schools and municipalities.
4. The generous on-line donations played a significant role for the financing of the project, as it contributes towards reaching our goals and ensuring sustainability.
5. The project has been carried out in a timely fashion and in a professional, cost-efficient way.
6. In order to achieve long-term sustainable results, the AACT project needs to continue its implementation during the school-year 2010-2011.
On behalf of Beit Almusica, the 50 Palestinian children that successfully finalized the first year of the project and their families, I would like to express our deepest gratitude for your support to this initiative.
Regardless of whether you choose to continue supporting the AACT project with time, money, or good will, we are determined to continue this important work and to be great partners with you and responsible and effective stewards of your hope, time and resources.
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