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Al Mezan Holds a Workshop to Combat Violence in Classrooms

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10 December 2017 |Reference 74/2017

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights held the specialized workshop, “Violence in Classrooms: The Reasons and the Solutions”, in response to an alarming increase in violence among students and teachers. Al Mezan recognizes the issue as one with serious physical and psychological impacts on students and also teachers.


The Ministry of Education, the Parents’ Council of UNRWA Schools, a private school representative, UNICEF, OCHA, Defence for Children International, and a number of researchers and activists attended the workshop.


Mr. Basem Abu Jrai, from Al Mezan’s Technical Assistance and Advocacy Unit, stated that “our discussions today must go beyond monitoring, to analysis of the driving forces. And must focus on solution-oriented discussion”.


“The education process ensures that our students enjoy their right to education,” followed Mr. Issam Younis, General Director of Al Mezan. “There are social, economic and political factors relating to Gaza’s closure and occupation that help spread violence in schools—the amount of violence inflicted on the population in Gaza leads to violent behaviors. A safe and secure learning environment must be a priority is combatting the violence of life in Gaza.”


The manager of the Complaints and Grievances Unit at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Mr. Nabil Al Arabeed, confirmed “a notable increase in the number of violent incidents in schools”, stating that “investigative committees, parent visits, and civil reconciliation groups have been organized to address the issue”. He said that “a learning environment governed by the principles of active participation, respect for diversity, and positive reinforcement must be promoted”. Mr. Al Arabeed pointed to several reasons for the rise in violence, including “family issues, the staff or administration, overcrowded classrooms, or a lack of effective intervention by school counselors, combined with the deteriorating economic, political and security situation”.


Child protection officer, Dr. Safaa Naser, said that UNICEF has provided strategies to teachers on coping with stress and to parents on raising healthy children. “UNICEF is developing programs to target violence in schools and plans to grow child involvement at school through engaging them in activities ranging from self-expression to healthy decision-making workshops”.


Dr. Sami Abu Aida, a private school representative, said that a child’s behavior is related to all social institutions—family, spiritual institutions, and the media. “Positive behavior should be encouraged through the promotion of ethics as well as through legal norms, ie. the law,” Dr. Abu Aida advocated.


The workshop featured many meaningful contributions by participants, all of whom agreed on the following conclusions:


  • -- Ensuring closer collaboration between families, schools and supervisory bodies;
  • -- Teaching educators and parents the human rights based approach to child care, notably the “best interests of the child” concept and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child principles;
  • -- Enhancing the role of school counselors in reinforcing students’ positive behavior;
  • -- Continuing to focus on the identification and response to the needs and challenges of students, and providing support; and
  • -- Organizing extracurricular activities through which students can be positively engaged in stress release and freedom of expression.