This month, MECI would like to take you on a journey to a Boys school in Beit Rima.
Before MECI, the school had no playground, stage for plays, library, or proper bathrooms. The indoor and outdoor walls of the school were deteriorated and filthy. PRior to MECI, the children played in the streets because the school could not provide an alternative. The children had never been exposed to art, music, or any team sports. Organized sports were inconceivable because of the aggressive nature of the children's behavior. The need for this type of program was cleark; it was a risk worth taking.
The local community, Ministry of Education, and the day school principal called upon MECI to run a comparable comprehensive after school program in the boys' school because of its poor academic performance, appalling pysical conditions, and reputation for aggressive behavior. The principal urged MECI to begin a project there because he no longer wanted to file reports on violent or aggressive peer-to-peer situations. BEfore MECI, there was an incidence of violence each school day.
The first time I went to the boys' school, I was afraid," said Khalid, MECI's PRogram Manager. While recognizing the need, Khalid also realized that MECI was taking a risk by deciding to take on this project and foreswaw many challenges. Remarkably, soon after MECI was implemented, Khalid and the school staff witnessed dreastic behavioral changes. After three days in the program, the children were following instructions and listening. Sports games that previously ended in violence and punishment became an outliet for the boys to release their energy and keep them centered, focused, and balanced.
"Waseel, a student in the first grade, was a voilent student who only knew the language of hitting. He was often absent in the mornings, and didn't do his worksheets or eat the meals. After encouragement from the staff of the program, he now comes to schoool every day so that he can play soccer with us in the afternoon. He is calm during the program and has become a trule leader.' -Mrs. Samar, Sports Counselor for the After School Program.
The boys learned in the sports after school activities how to move in a line, how to form a team with speficic positions, and how to cooperate with one another to achieve success. While attending the after school MECI program, the boys were also given a healthy meal to complement their exercise. After seeing the childrne behave in an organized fashion and participate in the activities wihtout any violent incidents, Khalid realised that the children were not the problem.
The problem was the attitude of the local community who had given up on the bos due the aggressive behaviora nad in some respects to the style of teaching, which was challenged by the significant behavioral issues in the classroom. According to Khalid, "It is hard to be supportive of your studetns without structured activities and the proper facilities. MECI's supportive teaching method along with strong behavioral modification made a huge difference in a short period of time."
The children of Beit Rima have been surrounded by violence due ot the ongoing conflict in the region. Through the MECI program, the children are offered an outlet that effectively serves to modify their behavior in a model that complements the education system. Today, Principal 'Azme is proud to say that he has not reported a single violent incident report since one month after MECI began in the fall of 2010. "The Children are no longer in the streets ,they are in at school playing soccer and chess and enjoying a healthy meal."
"I've gotten to know each student and how to work with them. Each student has an interest and a talent' some are interested in music, art, health, drawing, and sports. From the program, I've learned how to be a good teacher and how to address the students as a teacher."