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Children of Gaza being encouraged to appreciate wonder of storytelling

A Dubai Cares funded programme in Palestine is helping preschool teachers to get children reading and using their imagination.

While Dubai Cares supplies teacher training in Gaza, it also reaches children with books and supplies brochures for parents and teachers on how to best use the resources at hand.

However, Reem El Bohisi, a teacher at Hekayat Preschool in Deir Al Balah who took the training, said it requires more than just books to get children involved.

According to the 5th Edition of the Kids and Family Reading Report study by Scholastic, more than half of children who are read to early in life found it to be relaxing – an effect that Ms El Bohisi said was more pertinent in war-stricken areas than anywhere else.

“We are living in hard conditions, this should be clear to everyone by now. So, through education and stories, these students – many of whom have been through a lot – can escape into a different world,” she said.

The programme put her and six colleagues together to hone their skills in teaching literature and pique the interest of children aged three to five.

According to the same study, 40 per cent of pupils worldwide between the ages of six to 11 whose parents stopped reading to them said they wished it had continued.

“A love for reading begins at this age, this is the foundation of so much of their education, and the training gives us more tools to help to implement things, especially after the war,” said Ms El Bohisi.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza was made worse by last year’s war when much of the area’s infrastructure, including its schools, was destroyed.

According to representatives from Dubai Cares, to make matters more difficult, parents and teachers have limited knowledge of the unique care and developmental needs of children growing up in such tense environments.

Maisoun Abedmoeti, one of the teachers who took the preschool teacher training session, said that it was a teacher’s job to give children hope.

“It has fuelled me with positive energy. Life in Gaza has made us lose that sense of inner optimism, and the training helped me to dig deep inside myself and restore it,” said Ms Abedmoeti.

She said reading was a powerful tool to help her own five children overcome their fears during the 50-Day War last year.

She found that their love of reading and their connection to the stories continued.

Hanadi Azeez, a mother of two, shared Ms Abedmoeti’s sentiments and said that education was key in securing hope for her children’s future in a place where many have been robbed of a proper education.

Referring to her daughter Jomana, Ms Azeez said: “I am sometimes surprised by the words she uses and how she can name things so clearly and correctly.

“I am so pleased. What’s a better gift than books to help my children learn.”

She said that her d­­­aughter became more excited when she was read a story that she had previously listened to during her school’s reading session.

“I see clearly how important it is to read with them at home and also to encourage our children to read to us,” she said.

Bahaa Hamade, public relations and events manager for Dubai Cares, said: “Today, 250 million children around the world cannot read or write well. Literacy and education at large strengthen future generations in their fight against poverty and instability.”

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(via The National)