A non-for-profit/non-governmental organisation (registration number 8133) promoting cultural interexchange and human rights, and delivering educational services with a license to award and issue certificates formally recognized by the Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Culture in Palestine. The organisation is not affiliated with any political party.
The GCCs mission is to facilitate a transition from a present plagued by ignorance, backwardness and brutality to a future where culture, civilization and social harmony can thrive. The GCCs promotes education in Gaza as an indispensable means to promote democratic dialogue, tolerance and peace. Through its educational and recreational programmes, the GCCs aims to: provide relief to those suffering from human right abuses, nurture ethically sound behaviour, promote gender equality, create a sense of affiliation across the local and international community, and, last but not least, provide its beneficiaries with the intellectual skills they need to build a better future for themselves and their community.
The GCCs operates two centres: one in Al-Wehda – established in 2001– and one in Tal-Elhawa – established in 2005. GCCs direct beneficiaries include: students from local schools, students and graduates from local universities and institutes, as well as vulnerable and marginalized groups at risk of human rights abuses – e.g. divorced women, and disabled. Throughout its 15 years of activity, the GCCs has served a growing number of beneficiaries (more than 50% of whom women). See table below:
3 Involvement with local community
The GCCs has adopted a participative approach towards the community, always promoting and ensuring female participation. Whenever possible, it involves all beneficiaries in programme evaluations as well as decisions concerning improvements and developments.
The GCC is active at the community level through special committees which produce studies and surveys aimed at finding solutions to and/or increase awareness on specific problems affecting vulnerable groups in the local community. Recent studies focused, for instance, on the problems faced by disabled people and young divorced women living in the community.
4 Main Programmes 2015
4.1 After-Class Study Support
Schools in Gaza are overcrowded, poorly equipped and use inadequate and obsolete teaching methods. Students consequently struggle to get the good marks needed to gain access to university. The GCCs supports students with after-class courses in eight subjects: Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, IT, Administration, Arabic and English Language.
The UNRWA and government reports evaluating the GCCs programme confirm its positive impact on students’ performances. This is also reflected by the number of students enrolled per year, which has kept increasing throughout the years – in 2015, the total number of students enrolled in after-class courses reached 2461.
4.2 English Language
GCCs places high importance to this programme. The quality of teaching in local schools is very low. In addition to the general problems affecting the educational system – e.g. lack of experienced teachers and limited resources, there are very little opportunities for practicing the language with proficient English speakers.
GCCs attempts to fill this gap through its English programme, which covers courses at all levels (beginners, intermediate and advanced) and includes the possibility to award certificates recognised by the Ministry of High Education in Palestine. In 2015, through their competent and experienced teachers, GCCs delivered 24 English courses to a total of 715 students.
4.3 Human Rights and Culture
This programme aims at raising awareness and knowledge of humanitarian values, and human rights to promote democracy, gender equality as well as ethically sound behaviours and tolerance. The programme is transversal, meaning that its activities are spread within all other programmes and not organised as a separate course. In 2015, GCCs organized and implemented about 40 activities (courses, workshops, sessions, entertainment activities, lectures) for more than 1760 participants, the majority of whom were women.
4.4 IT Capacity Building
Through this programme, the GCCs aims to provide graduates, staff members and university students with the essential IT skills needed to succeed in the labour market. It does so by organising computer science and information technology courses. The GCCs is endowed with a modern computer lab run by competent IT specialists. Internet courses in particular – which are part of the computer programme – aim to encourage communication and cultural exchanges with outsiders. About 200 participants of different ages and both sexes attended these courses and related activities in 2015.
4.5 Marginalised Groups
The GCCs expanded its work to include activities aimed at better integrating vulnerable social groups into the community – e.g. disabled and divorced women. These included socio-cultural initiatives, as well as English and math courses. In 2015, the GCCs assisted more than 250 people from marginalized groups through the delivery of several activities.
4.6 Psychological Support through Recreation
The GCCs has dedicated increasing attention and efforts to this programme in the last two years. The Gaza’s siege, the wars and the ensuing social and economic hardships have severely affected the psychological wellbeing of many – especially children, young people and women. The programme included a number of psychological sessions, seminars, events and extracurricular activities, heritage activities (Dabka- theatre), handicrafts, individual sessions, competitions, trips, open days, summer camps and other activities open to all participants of GCCs programmes.
5 Future Plans
5.1 General Strategy
- find new partners and donors
- widen GCCs geographical range with new centres in the southern areas and refugee camps
- continue serving all programmes currently served
- add teachings on research methods to introduce students to scientific research and related methodologies
- more efforts in promoting tolerance, peace, democracy, and human rights
- more efforts in increasing women participation
5.2 Special Initiative
- seeking an institute/university abroad that could recognise GCCs certificates – in particular the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam would be an excellent institute for the certificates that the GCCs issues in its course on Human Rights and Social Justice. The GCCs is firmly convinced that courses on Human Rights are strongly needed in Gaza. For this initiative, the GCCs would welcome ISS’s full supervision and monitoring, and could rely on its own local teachers (lawyers, retired experts, judges) to deliver the teachings.
6 Current Situation and Needs
The GCCs is in an urgent need to find new donors. Due to a new internal policy prescribing a diversion of funds from established partners to newer partners, a major donor that has been supporting the GCCs for years has recently withdraw its support, causing the GCCs considerable economic hardship.
For further information, see: http://fireflyinternational.org/?event=the-forgotten-children-of-gaza