Country: East Jerusalem.
Donor: European Union – European Neighbourhood Instrument.
Period: 36 months.
Thematic Area: inclusive education.
Partners: Al Quds University, University of Bologna and University of Macerata. Other stakeholders will be: Disable People Organizations (DPOs), the Jerusalem Directorate of Education, parents’ organizations, local and international CBOs and NGOs working in the field of education and promotions of rights of persons with disabilities (PwDs) for coordination and synergies.

General objective: The Overall Objective of the Project is “to make educational environments for children in East Jerusalem more inclusive” by addressing attitudinal, environmental, political, practical barriers to inclusion. Therefore, primary school children of East Jerusalem and their parents will be the final beneficiaries, while university scholars and students, primary school teachers, educators and Jerusalemite families will be the target groups.

Specific Objectives: Make educational environments for children in East Jerusalem more inclusive, improve the wellbeing of primary school children in East Jerusalem, with a special focus on children with disabilities (CwD), children with learning difficulties, gifted and slow learners, Primary school teachers and educators adopt inclusive approaches and active education practices in daily work.

Project Summary:                                                                                      
The intervention aims to improve the wellbeing of primary school children in East Jerusalem, with a special focus on children with disabilities (CwD), children with learning difficulties, gifted and slow learners. Palestinian (CwD) in Jerusalem have difficulties in attending regular classes, since schools are not physically accessible nor inclusive, due to Israeli restrictions and negative social attitudes of school staff. According to UNICEF’s survey (2013), almost 80% of teachers in East Jerusalem think that (CwD) should be placed in special schools, while 70% believe that children with learning difficulties should not be integrated in a mainstream classroom. A study carried out by the Centre for Development Studies at Birzeit University confirms these findings: more than one third of (CwD) enrolled in schools felt isolated from their peers; 20% stated that the school administration rejected their school application; two third of respondents found that there is a lack of qualified staff who are aware of their disabilities, 20% of the respondents enrolled in schools were enrolled in specialized schools. Finally, the planned lobbying and advocacy activities will ensure the recognition of the DPOs also by the other stakeholders and key actors involved, and will foster their coordination with other local DPOs and an effective mainstreaming of disability.

Through a strategic partnership among universities, the Action aims to reinforce the institutional role of the University of Jerusalem (Al Quds), which is struggling to maintain its efficiency and unity. The academic networking between the department of education of Al Quds University, University of Bologna (UniBO) and University of Macerata (UniMC) and other Palestinian universities, will trigger a virtuous process of capacity building for scholars of AlQuds, enhancing their role as technical advisors on the field of inclusive education. In fact, most activities targeting primary schools will be run and/or supervised by university researchers, with the final goal of creating a synergy between Palestinian schools and Al Quds University. By working with local universities, the Action aims to have a medium/long term impact, being universities key-actors for change for future generations. In order to preserve Al Quds’ historical unity, most activities will take place in the campus in Abu Dis while coordinating with the equivalent department in Beit Hanina.

The two Child Institutes, affiliated with the University, will be in charge of community empowerment in a context where communities are fragmented by different identity status, civil rights and tribal allegiances. The Institute will host educational services and recreational activities that will facilitate children inclusion and will reinforce their sense of belonging to a Palestinian Nation.