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Educational aid for Palestinians – Not hand outs

Educational aid for Palestinians – Not hand outs
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Salaamedia Correspondent | 22 July 2016

South Africans, Muslims in particular, are world renowned for their generous disposition. Giving for good causes, locally and internationally, has become second nature to an extent where individuals, families and towns often compete in outdoing the next.

The forms of charity vary from basic food supplies for the less privileged to the elaborate establishment of religious buildings, skills development centres, sporting and recreational facilities.

There has however been a growing debate on the most suitable forms of charity that allows for the long term development of a people, region or community.

Palestinians have long been the recipients of monetary donations from around the world as a form of support and solidarity in the face of an ongoing Israeli occupation. During the various Israeli onslaughts, aid organisations have poured in resources collected from communities around the world.

During quieter periods, the Palestinian cause has still been one that generates popular charitable reaction. But what type of support is required during these times of “relative” peace.

Is the best form assistance still the hand out of food parcels or clothes? Do large scale campaigns, tapping on the emotions of a giving people, do justice to the real needs of the recipients?

The message coming out of Palestine seems to be different.

For Fathima Abed Bakri, a Palestinian journalist, education is the primary cause towards  which resources need to be directed.

“What we Palestinians really need is money for education. Empower Palestinian students because they are the future of Palestine. Through education we believe we are sowing the real seeds for a future,” she said during an interview with Salaamedia. The podcast is available here.

“Israel makes Palestinians look like terrorists and that we don’t have education, yet we are very skilled. Through education we document the apartheid of this system,” added Bakri.

Dr Faisal Suliman, a director at SAMNET, a South African based NGO and lobby group met Bakri on his visit to Palestine this June.

He noted that due to the increased drop-out rate of Palestinian children from school, many of these learners do not go on to qualify in higher learning institutions which may lead to an unskilled nation.

On his return to South Africa, Dr Suliman encouraged the creation of a bursary fund for the Palestinian education.

The education received by Palestinians in the Israeli territories is controlled by Israel. Students have to pass through checkpoints daily. These Arabic speaking students are taught in Hebrew and are expected to complete their education in a language different to their mother-tongue.

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