oPt

oPt: USAID launches new education quality improvement program

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Ramallah, West Bank - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) held a ceremony on November 13 to launch the Model Schools Network (MSN) Program aimed at improving the quality of Palestinian basic education. The Minister of Education and Higher Education Lamis Al-Alami, USAID Mission Director Howard Sumka and AMIDEAST Vice President Leslie Nucho attended the event, together with representatives from Birzeit and Al-Quds Universities, Al Muntada/The Young Scientists' Club and the participating network schools. The event took place at the Arab Evangelical Episcopal School in Ramallah.

The USAID-funded Model Schools Network Program, which is implemented through AMIDEAST and carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, responds to an urgent need for improving the quality of Palestinian education at the basic level. It seeks to introduce a student-centered, contemporary approach to teaching and learning for grades 1 to 9 within a network of a minimum of 20 schools in the West Bank. The program is closely aligned with the Ministry's new Education Development Strategic Plan for the years 2008-2012 and will be carried out in partnership with Al-Quds and Birzeit Universities and Al Muntada/the Young Scientists Club. The program is a pilot, which later can be used as a model for other Palestinian schools.

This four-year program develops a model school network by focusing on four types of initiatives: professional development, such as teacher training; physical capacity building, including computer and science lab upgrades; professional networking, including a virtual learning environment and educational conferences; and student and community integration, in areas such as math, science and language activities.

Since 1993, USAID has provided more than $2.2 billion in U.S. economic assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza via projects designed to combat poverty, improve health and education, improve water services and infrastructure, create jobs, and promote democracy and good governance.