Asmaa AbuMezeid and Hansa AbuMezeid

Friday 20 May 2022

Education, English and the question of future in conflict areas

Life in a protracted conflict area is systematically paralyzed, resulting in a distortion in every aspect of life from education to mental health and well-being. With about half of the population unemployed, a percentage that soars among young women to reach 70 percent, the Gaza Strip is losing its human capital essential for building the state and communities. Among the factors amplifying this crisis is the limited access to quality education linked with the future jobs' requirements, combined with a fragile economy that offers minimal job opportunities. Although the gig economy is gaining momentum, which was accelerated by the COVID-19 global pandemic, young Palestinian people are struggling to compete due to different elements where the English language is one of them. This talk dives into the realities of education for employment and entrepreneurship in the Gaza context, focusing on access, affordability, and quality, and the paradox of English learning as an escape route, and the question of its exclusion. Additionally, the talk will discuss the structural barriers facing English teachers in public and private spheres while working on the educational process in marginalized areas and under military aggressions. The personal experiences of English teachers during conflict and how it affects their mental health, which rarely received attention, will be presented.

 

Asmaa AbuMezied is an economic development and social inclusion specialist working with Oxfam to address issues of gender and economic development with specific focus on women and youth participation in the economy. Her research interests focus on the care economy, women’s collectives organizing in economic sectors, the private sector’s social accountability, and the intersection of Palestinian political, agricultural, and environmental identities. She was an Atlas Corps Fellow in partnership with President Obama Emerging Global Leaders, a Gaza Hub-Global Shaper (an initiative of World Economic Forum), and a 2021 Mozilla Foundation Wrangler at "Tech for Social Activism" space.

 

Hasna AbuMezied is a teacher of English as a foreign language working with the Palestinian Ministry of Education. Through her 12 years of experience, she worked at refugee camps and marginalized areas in the Gaza Strip focusing on the utilization of interactive method in teaching English, and running initiatives with students to encourage English learning. She also worked at Oxford Centre for teaching English for adults. Hasna was awarded the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching in 2016 to attend the School of Education at Indiana University in the US, working on inquiry project for teaching English.