Memorandum submitted by Colin South, Director,
Friends School Ramallah/El-Bireh
Colin and Kathy South are members of Britain
Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends and, when in
England where their home is, live in Witham, Essex. Colin has
taught in the UK, Jamaica and Ghana for a combined period of 17
years. He has served as General Secretary of a Christian international
charity and ecumenical agency of Churches Together in Britain
and Ireland, Christians Abroad, for 13 years. He and his wife
have lived and worked in Ramallah for the last three years. Colin
serves as the Director of Friends School which is an administrative
and educational leadership post. Kathy has extensive experience
in adult and further education and currently serves as College
I am confining my remarks to the role of Friends
Schools, most of the background information for which is noted
in John and Marjorie's submission.
Just to supplement John's remarks, Friends Schools
is concerned to provide an innovative educational service to the
communities of Ramallah and El-Bireh. It promotes a liberal education
encouraging research, questioning and problem solving throughout
our curriculum. It is a Palestinian school in that over 90% of
our students and staff are Palestinian. It is a Christian school
owned today by Friends United Meeting based in Richmond, Indiana,
USA. Friends United Meeting is a network of Yearly Meetings from
communities in Kenya and others in Africa, Cuba, Jamaica, US and
Canada. It is a Quaker school with its primary link with the Religious
Society of Friends in the United States but also with strong links
throughout the world but particularly among Friends in the UK
and the rest of Europe.
The concern of Friends School is to provide
excellence in education, development of the whole person, a recognition
of our responsibility to our community, nation and global family
and a stand for equality before God regardless of gender, creed,
culture, colour or social status.
Our development program to date includes four
projects which are designed to be of direct benefit to the community
and to the school.
1. Kaykab Garden: An educational
garden which houses a collection of Palestinian plants and eventually
stories and songs associated with them. It is the centre for a
popular "Green Roots" children's club based on education
and service. It is an organic garden and has recently extended
its concern to a Fruit and Vegetable model garden for the use
of natural pesticides and fertilizers using techniques such as
inter cropping to promote attraction/repulsion for helpful/harmful
insects. It teaches composting and mulching as appropriate methods
of gardening. This facility is designed as a resource for any
school, youth activity, women's group in the town and surrounding
villages for the promotion of these values and is already a popular
venue and a recognised source of expertise. It is funded by the
Heinrich Boll Institute, the American Friends Service Committee
and has had substantial help from PECDAR. The planning and design
of the project was the help and support of Birzeit University.
This has been up and running for about two years.
2. Asha Buildings: The United States
Aid program provides funds through ASHA (American Schools and
Hospitals Abroad program) for some High School building projects.
The latest to be successfully completed is a 1.8 million US$ investment
providing an indoor basketball court and multi-purpose hall, a
new library, two new computer suites and volunteer accommodation.
These projects all completed with local architectural, engineering
and building companies and are exemplar in terms of good design,
cost efficiency and effectiveness according to USAID assessments.
They are closely supervised by FUM and its local Director.
Prior to this latest addition to the assets
of the School, a Science Building, was completed successfully
and opened by Senator Albright. Together these buildings, as well
as having a school purpose, are seen as providing opportunities
for the community, if not now then in the future, in terms of
i: space for rent, ii: centres for training opportunities for
teachers in use of information technology and providing iii: a
specialist library with probably the best collection of current
periodicals in Arabic and English in the West Bank.
3. Parent, Teacher, Child Centre:
We have the land although not all that we would like. Plans are
fast approaching completion. The final drawings are being prepared
and a fund raising committee established. This project will commence
with a model Kindergarten housing 160 children where the focus
in the education provided is negotiated individual partnerships
between parent, teacher and child in a child's education. This
in its second stage will provide help provide placements for trainees
in Kindergarten teaching and its third phase will partner local
and international NGOs in the establishment of a centre for parent-child
support (parenting) up to the age of seven years. This will include
various trauma therapies, education for child development and
psychological support services. This plan is developed in co-operation
with Birzeit University. We need part funding for this project
which will cost approximately 1.5 million US$. Much of the funding
will come from Alumni.
4. Youth and Community Centre: We
have the land. Plans are being made after an extensive consultation
process for the design, funding and construction of a youth and
community centre focussing on sport and physical recreational
activities. The target group is aged 16-24 which is seen by our
community representatives as being the age group now most in need
of facilities. The building will provide an international size
indoor heated swimming pool for the training of international
athletes and for the benefit of the community. It will also house
a bowling alley and possibly, if we can afford it, an indoor skate
board facility. These community services will be income generating
and completely self funding. The outside grounds area will include
a running track, fitness circuit and possibly a football pitch
on grass. This needs funding and the School will be looking at
various combinations of commercial and grant funding alternatives.
We would prefer a grant funded facility but may have to look at
the commercial options.
The school has proved itself a competent manager
of international funds. It is audited by Price, Waterhouse, Coopers
who are currently setting up an internal audit process of international
standards. Please visit us and help us serve the community better
by European investment.
255 See Ev 249. Back