Just Say “No” – Zainab Al Ramlawi, Gaza, Palestine

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Caption: Students protesting outside an SRC meeting in December 2009, Photo: Harvey Finkle

School violence has recently seen much discussion as a serious offence in most countries, especially developing ones. In the Gaza Strip in Palestine, the Ministry of Education discourages the use of physical violence, yet there have been many violent incidents with the perpetrators being the teachers themselves or even the headmasters.

I, myself, have experienced this kind of violence at school. One day, I was late, so the headmaster asked for all the students who had arrived late and proceeded to punish them by beating them on their hands, using a hard stick. All the girls but me did not object to this irrational and barbaric punishment, except me. I refused to open my hand just to be beaten, remembering Emma Watson’s quote “If not me, who? If not now, when?”. The headmaster got furious towards me and expelled me for that day. After that incident, my teachers started looking at me in a creepy way; I felt as if they all hated me. Then, I thought of addressing them directly, which was, unfortunately, to no avail. With time and enough struggle, I realised that I had to change my school altogether, even though it was hard to adapt to a whole new environment, with meeting completely different people in the process. Yet, I was only one out of a million who have witnessed school violence.

There is no clear reason or cause for school violence is happening in the first place. However, there is a multitude of factors that increase the likelihood of such barbaric behaviour. From my point of view, the main goal for the teachers and administration is academic prowess and achievements, sidestepping other problems or issues a student may have. They see them as objects or machines that have to do as they are ordered; They ignore that students are human beings too, that they have their own interests and abilities. Same with most families.

In any case, concentrating on the academic part of education is only one side of the coin. Any teacher should have to focus more on developing their student’s personal skills, fostering their curiosity and effectively cultivating their interests. They should pay attention to individual needs, to whatever extent possible, guiding their students in the process. Understanding the psychology of a student is of paramount importance and a prerequisite to lead them in the right direction. On the other hand, parents, who think their responsibility stops when they send their kid to school, should devote precious time to encourage their children, by listening to their problems and offering suggestion. A child needs to have a shoulder to turn to and know that there is someone there for them.

Summing up, understanding students as more than people who must learn and seeing them as unique, different and interested individuals is the way forwards. We is why we must say “no” to violence. “No” as a parent, “no” as a teacher, “no” as a student, but most importantly “no” as humans. School is a safe haven for growth, not a place for violence.179789121660502812-dec9-south-philly-high-full

One response to “Just Say “No” – Zainab Al Ramlawi, Gaza, Palestine

  1. Pingback: Achievements – Zainab·

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