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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Helping Palestinian students learn better as pressures increase

Life in the occupied northern West Bank town of Beita, near Nablus, has been turned upside down since Israeli settlers re-established an outpost settlement on Palestinians’ land in May 2021.

Weekly protests against the land grab have resulted in clashes with Israeli forces, with 10 Palestinians, including 2 children, killed by live ammunition, and 6,800 injured, according to the UN.

The Israeli army has also carried out search and arrest campaigns to quash the unrest.

With EU humanitarian support, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has implemented a ‘better learning programme’ in Beita allowing over 600 students to receive psychosocial support after the first killings.

2 children in a school hall
Since July 2021, with EU humanitarian support, NRC has implemented the Better Learning Programme (BLP) in Beita. The partnership allowed 593 students - 80 boys and 513 girls – to receive psychosocial support after the first killings.
© NRC, 2023
Group of students standing aligned on a square.
Morning assembly at Beita elementary school. NRC’s Better Learning Program was first launched in in the West Bank in 2012 with EU support. After participating, 63% of children reported improved ability to do homework, and 92% reported less nightmares.
© NRC, 2023
Teacher Anwar Bani Shamseh in front of a classroom, students raising hands to answer a question.
Teacher Anwar Bani Shamseh gives an English class. Teachers of major subjects have been trained in BLP since they spend a lot of time with the students. They integrate the techniques in their classes and have learnt how to help traumatised children.
© NRC, 2023
Basma Omair amidst students in a class room.
School social worker Basma Omair leads a psychological support class. “It’s great to have teachers trained on how to deal with students’ psychological pressures, which is usually the social worker’s duty,” says Omair, who has 12 years of experience.
© NRC, 2023
Photo of principal Blance Omar sitting at a desk.
Blance Omar is the Principal of Beita elementary mixed school. “The fathers of 4 students at our school were killed by the Israeli army in the past year. As for injuries or detention cases, they are countless,” says Omar.
© NRC, 2023
Photo of  Maisan Sharafa in front of a blackboard.
Maisan Sharafa’s father was shot dead in July 2021. This 11-year-old’s safe place was by her father’s grave. “My teachers helped me find another safe space, which is the balcony of my house, where I meditate while looking out over town,” she says.
© NRC, 2023
Janat Khdair sitting at her desk, surrounded by other students sitting at desks.
Janat Khdair (11) witnessed her uncle’s workplace burn to ashes in a suspected settler arson attack. At first, she kept it to herself. “During a BLP session, I finally felt fine to share it, which was a good decision that helped me a lot,” said Khdair.
© NRC, 2023
Hani Bdair, a geography teacher, in front of a class. Behind his back is a blackboard and a map of the world.
Hani Bdair is a geography teacher. He has noticed the protests in town and the escalation by the Israeli army have occupied the boys’ minds. “It’s healthy for students to discuss such matters, but I also had to help them focus on their studies,” Bdair say
© NRC, 2023
Photo of Habib Tayeh in front of a blackboard.
Student Habib Tayeh (11) says: “Not all boys believe in these exercises. They think it’s for girls only. They think they are not weak and don’t need help.” He personally believes that the psychosocial support through BLP benefits everyone, boys and girls.
© NRC, 2023

Story and photos by the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Publication date: 28/06/2023