JERUSALEM – For the past six years the Greek Catholic Annunciation Society in Jerusalem, has been working through its remedial education project to reduce the rate of youth dropout, as well as to offer the mothers of these young people awareness sessions and social activities.
The project, which is funded by the Pontifical Mission, the Welfare Association and now by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, aims to reduce the dropout rate among 200-300 students by providing them with support lessons and extra-curricular activities such as educational trips to museums and historical sites with certified tour guides.
“What we want to achieve through these educational trips and visits is to open the horizons of these students and to prompt them to think and be inquisitive,” said Tania Awwad, the director of the Society.
The students, whose ages are between 12 and 17 years old, suffer for the most part from learning difficulties and low grades in major school subjects such as Arabic, English, Math and Chemistry. To properly help them, the Greek Catholic Annunciation Society brings professional trainers who have a life-long experience as teachers and educators. It also works with many Christian schools to offer them training, equipment and even a social worker that monitors the development of the youth.
The Society also works to provide the mothers of these young teenagers with awareness sessions about different social issues. “Last year, said Tania, we asked the Society of St. Yves to give a lecture about the rights that mothers have according to the national insurance law.”
Yoga classes are also part of the social activities that the Society organizes, which represents a meeting point for the mothers to support each other.
Another program that is part of the Remedial Education project concerns sexual harassment and the effective training to counter it. “The program consists of holding workshops and lectures for three target groups: parents, teachers and students,” said Tania. “It is challenging sometimes to gather all parents, but we are working with professional people in one school at a time. I think that this is a very important program for these three groups to know how to respond to instances of sexual harassment.”
In addition to the Remedial Education project, The Greek Catholic Annunciation Society maintains a nursery, a kindergarten and implements other projects that benefit women, children and families from all religious backgrounds in Jerusalem as well as providing hot meals for at least 12 seniors who are living alone and cannot cook for themselves. In a sign of support and encouragement, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, visited the Society during its kindergarten Christmas recital one and a half years ago.
Taking into consideration the high cost of living in Jerusalem and the non-profit nature of the Society, running the different projects is always challenged and sometimes a program is put on hold for lack of resources.
“We often run out of funds and we have to halt the program,” said Tania. “However, this was the first year that we were able to sustain our remedial education project. This is of course thanks to the new help of the Belgian Knights of the Holy Sepulcher and the ongoing support of the Pontifical Mission.”