Our Students Evaluating Projects
Female and male students left the school walls for the first time not as an act of insubordination, but to act as adults and demand that they establish standards of right and wrong. These students, fifteen years of age, are the future of their country, and they took upon themselves the responsibility to meet the executors of various developmental projects, question them concerning their accountability, and assess their behavior concerning public funds.
Numerous agreements and made with different sides to fund various projects in Palestine; large sums of money are dedicated in the name of development and service of the community in Palestinian villages, cities and towns. These finances are brought in my name, your name and her name; numerous projects that are supposed to be implemented as a service to me, you and her; therefore it is our right to wonder where does this money go? How? What is the mechanism of expenditure?
Are these projects truly implemented in accordance with the standards agreed upon with the funding sides? Where there legal tenders that were predominated by justice and integrity instead of personal relations, nepotism and favoritism? Did the projects fulfill the desired goals or were there any shortcomings from a certain side?
Carrying these questions and the responsibility on their shoulders, our students formed work groups with their teachers in fourteen Palestinian schools, after receiving training in principals of transparency, accountability and integrity within an initiative titled “Social Audit” implemented by the Teacher Creativity Center and the Ministry of Education. The students chose projects that they felt needed to be researched and evaluated, and their questions elevated to the degree as to question those who implemented or supervised the project, since the Palestinian law ensures that all citizens have the right to acquire knowledge and access to information.
Numerous mayors and implementers in Palestinian villages, towns, and cities welcomed the idea warmly (at least initially), and cooperated well with the members of the evaluating teams by answering their question and inquiries about the projects that have been implemented or those that are still in the process of implementation. Others didn’t welcome the idea and turned into a “stumbling block” to the questions put forward by the team.
The teams met with the implementers, visited the sites, gathered the information and analyzed it and reached results and conclusions, reemitting these conclusions to those in concern: the public. In the public hearings that were held in several locations, in which citizens and institutes were invited to attend. Presentations by the students concerning the information they gathered and the conclusions reached were presented. This allowed room for real mobility, questions, enlightenment, and transparency, which is the thing that is really needed in the relationship between the leadership and the citizens. The students surpassed expectations, for they are our hope of a cleaner future and they are trustworthy to uphold this responsibility.
For more information, please watch the accompanying film titled “Our Students Evaluating Projects”: