28 Apr 2018

DSMT visit to Dar Al Tifel School – April 2018

2018 Comments Off on DSMT visit to Dar Al Tifel School – April 2018

In April 2018 a DSMT group visited the Dar Al Tifel School, East Jerusalem. (Visits are paid for by the individuals themselves.)  The main purpose was as usual to monitor the DSMT scholarship programmes to ensure that our funds continue to be used effectively and that the school is thriving.  Visitors met with Ms Mahira Dajani the President of the Board of Trustees, other staff and DSMT students past and present.

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Left: DSMT with DTA schoolgirls. Right: DSMT school scholarship students

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Group photo at Dar El Tifel School

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Left: DSMT and DTA scholarship and alumnae meeting. Right: DSMT Trustees with Ms Dajani

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DSMT group photo with alumnae and school scholarship students.

As expected, the school impressed. The girls were enthusiastic and lively and engaged in their studies. Thanks to two significant grants from Gulf development funds, the school had embarked on an extensive regeneration and building programme, overseen by the Director of the Palestinian Heritage Museum on the same site.  Newly refurbished science and IT labs are now in use.

The visit confirmed that awarding school scholarships is a valuable use of our money. The school scholarships help both the individual girl and, because they are for an amount greater than the fees, help the school by contributing towards the running costs of the school. The Higher Education (HE) scholarship is also highly prized by the school – so much so that they try to find support for those girls who apply for our scholarship but don’t receive it. The visit confirmed that we should continue with the selection process we have in place for the HE scholarship as it is robust and we end up supporting those who are both in economic need and capable.

The visit included a meeting with the British Consulate-General who confirmed that any support  to girls in Jerusalem – or more widely in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) – was worthwhile. Not only was girls’ education a good thing per se, but anything that increased their chances of securing employment in a country where women had only 17% of labour market participation was by definition helpful.

These visits also enable us to see at first hand the effects of the political situation on the life of the school. The Palestinians we met continue to desire a political settlement, but sadly there was little positive to report. Israeli encroachment into Palestinian areas in the old city of Jerusalem where some of our students live continues apace and “security” measures are starving Palestinian businesses of their customer base.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for West Bank Palestinians to travel to Jerusalem for which they need special permits.  As a result, school pupils now come from a narrower geographical area than they used to. Fewer than usual of our HE students and alumnae had been able to travel to the school to meet us and in June we learned that one of them, from Jerusalem but studying in Nablus had not had her ID renewed. Her mother has Jerusalem ID but as her deceased father had not, the family have been obliged to relocate to Nablus. The student will no longer be able to visit her old school or meet there with DSMT visitors.

More generally in the OPTs, settlements continue to be built at an alarming rate. Not only are these illegal under international law, but they also mean that Palestinians living nearby have roads blocked to create a secure environment for the settlers; Palestinians also have their olive groves/agricultural land taken; water is diverted from their villages to settlements, with the Palestinians facing prolonged water shortages.

This context confirmed for us that our scholarship programmes, as well as being of educational value,  can also offer social and emotional support, helping the girls feel in touch with the world beyond Occupied Palestine.

Read about the 2017 visit here

 

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