Launching the Global Action Week 2014 ActivitiesMonitors quench citizens thirst for improved service delivery in PalestineEqual right, equal opportunity: inclusive education for children with disabilities The Central Arbitration for the Social Audit ProjectClosing a Training Session on Project CitizenStudents in Palestine empowered to make a difference in their communities through Social Audit Project -Master of Arts in Human Rights and Conflict Management (a.y. 2013-2014). dvv international, UNESCO, UIL and ICAE launch 2nd Global Report for Adult Learning and EducationThe Second Political Participation Conference Issued a Request to the International Social Forum for the Need to Adopt A global Social Feminist Forum in 2014Our Students Evaluating ProjectsPalestinian Feminist Educational ForumChronicles from Rio+20 The education we need for the world we wantThe Global Campaign for Education Kicks OffGlobal Campaign for Education- Media Outreach about the Realities of Childhood in Palestine Government schools with damageGaza Schools Address Environmental Problems When the students succeedAmeria School Students Brief Jenin Governor on Pollution IssuesMeeting with Coordinators of Local Educational Councils600 Students Implement the Social Audit ProjectLocal Educational Councils- Training Workshop in Development of Intervention Projects to Improve the Educational Environment
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Towards Creative Change in Palestinian Education
Towards Creative Change in Palestinian Education
Palestinian Students Evaluate Implemented Projects
Palestinian Students Evaluate Implemented Projects
Male and female 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 error and correction standards. These students who are fifteen years old 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.  
The agreements that are signed by many parties to fund numerous projects in the Palestinian territories are immense, and the money that is allocated in the name of development and service of individuals in villages, towns, and Palestinian cities is also immense. This money comes in my name, your name, and her name; and numerous projects are supposed to be implemented to serve me, you, and her. Based on this, its our right to question: where does this money go, and how? What is the mechanism of its expenditure? 
Where are these projects truly implemented according to the standards agreed upon with the donors? Were there tenders put forward to contractors to implement these projects in accordance with the law, where justice and integrity prevail for most of the part, or were they given to contracts based on personal relationship, nepotism, and favoritism? Did these projects accomplish the goals that were set in the first place or was there negligence from one of the parties? 
Our students took up these questions, and feeling the responsibility formed working teams in fourteen Palestinian schools after receiving sufficient training on the assets of transparency, accountability, and integrity through an initiative that was called Social Audit carried out by the Teacher Creativity Center, in cooperation with 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 information. 
Many mayors and projects implementing parties 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 didnt 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, analyzed it and reached results and conclusions, they then reemitted 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 command and the citizens. 

Harvested Results:
The Teacher Creativity Center and the Ministry of Education held the closing ceremony for the Social Audit project, which included presentations by the fourteen schools participating in the event, in front of a judging panel, in Ramallah. 
Before the start of the presentations, Tharwat Zaid, General Director of Supervision and Educational Qualification in the Ministry of Education, talked to a large crowd of administrators, teachers, students, and educators, where he said that the concept of citizenship is more comprehensive than a sense of belonging and it expands to become a catalyst for action and a sense of responsibility toward community issues. Zaid also pointed out that civic education is a broad concept that includes values, concepts, traditions, and suitable governance, in addition to all kinds of participation. It is also the individuals feelings of loyalty and belonging to its people, and the driving force to question and explore. 
Zaid added that responsibility, authority, sovereignty, participation and equity are civil concepts and that it is insufficient to only know them but instead we have to live and practice them; adding that what discriminates us from other peoples is our ability to change and engage in dialogue with openness.
Zaid also said that accountability is not in the sense that I carry a sword and prosecute others, but instead is a quest for improvement and development in the overall performance. He noted that the Teacher Creativity Center is a distinct civic institution, and that we- the ministry- cherish its partnership and cooperation in the implementation of projects. 

Thinking Outside the Box: 
For his part, Refat Sabbah, General Manager of Teacher Creativity Center, spoke about the project, saying that most of our teachers teach Civic Education utilizing traditional methods, in which participation and dialogue dont fit in. Sabbah attributed this to the social, economic, and psychological circumstances that the teacher is going through; pointing out that these conditions dont promote the teachers belief that they carry a highly important message.   
Concerning the Social Audit (Social Responsibility) Project, Sabbah said that it is connected to the Citizenship Project that we have been implementing for years. Our goal from the social audit project, Sabbah clarified, is to develop teaching skills for the subject of economics among teachers, in addition to enabling the students in employ systematic analysis by determining the problems, choosing alternatives, and researching policies that ensure fair growth.   
Muhammad, a teacher in Jenin Secondary school, said that for the first times our students are moving from being the recipient to becoming the producer of knowledge; with this sentence he summarized the experience of the students in the Social Audit Project, which is a project that deals with agreements signed with governmental agencies or civic institutions to finance several projects in the Palestinian territories, in addition to the amounts of money allocated to implement these projects in Palestinian villages, cities, and towns, regardless of whether these projects were projects of infrastructure or construction of facilities or others.

Its Our Right to Question: 
Abeer Musleh, a member of the judging panel, said that it is necessary that we reach the degree where we are hold the implementers of these projects accountable, or to be at least able to supervise these projects, since the Palestinian law ensures that all citizens have the right to freedom of information. 
Murad Abdul Ghani from the Ministry of Education and a member of the judging panel pointed out that social responsibility was effectively translated by working groups formed by school principals, economics teachers, and committees with selected students from the fourteen participating schools in the West Bank, who already have received training on the principals of transparency, accountability, and budget analysis for the project that is called Social Responsibility or Social Audit. He added, this project was implemented and supervised by the Teacher Creativity Center, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. 
Khalid Kilani, a teacher of economics at Sheikh Izz al-Din al-Qassam school in Yabad, was the supervisor of the team who won the first prize. These students won because they were able to provide a complete report about the phases of the work, the conclusions, and the recommendations. He said that their project discussed the proposal to construct a water well in the town, and so they discussed and analyzed the criteria for inclusion, its causes and alternatives, and how the municipality of Yabad dealt with this issue; adding that their goal was to support the municipality of the town. In the evaluation of this issue and project, he added that we considered it very important to involve the students in issues of public interest, since on one hand we convey to them the concepts of economy, evaluation, auditing, and writing reports; and on another hand we contribute to building the values of integrity and the importance of the participation of citizens. 
A female student from Tarqumiya Secondary school expressed profound happiness after knowing that her school won the second place among all participating school. She said that this project 'opened new doors for us to acquire knowledge, and that it made us feel that even though we are 10th graders we felt that we are highly important and we have the ability to influence and change'. Her teacher, Iman, the supervisor of the team said that the girls were able to alter the view of the Womens Association in the town in terms of caring for the standards when implementing and distributing the projects on the beneficiaries. She added that everyone knows and understands that this money comes in the name of the Palestinian people, and not for a party, family, or neighborhood, and therefore it should be distributed fairly.  
Rania, a teacher in Beit Sahour school for Girls, which is the team who won the third prize, noted the extent of cooperation that the students found from their supervisors, implementers, and municipal officials; they warmly welcomed the idea and cooperated well with the auditing team by answering their questions and inquiries about the projects whose implementation is complete, and those who are still on-going.   
Asma Abu Saa, principal of the girls school in Deir Al Ghosoun expressed that when the project was announced, they experiences feelings of anger and greatly opposed the idea, saying that they cannot exercise a supervising and auditing role on implemented projects; first because they didnt think it was their role, and second because of fearing of the effects on the school and students of intervening in matters that have been monopolized by men in particular. However, they now consider it highly important that the social audit project continues, and stress the importance of allowing all Palestinian schools to uphold their responsibility to what is happening in their towns. 
Some of the teachers and students, such as Maseera School for Girls in Shufat, Ali Al Muhtaseb School in Hebron, and Deir Greer Secondary School for Boys, confirmed that the enthusiasm of the officials, implementers, and supervisors of the projects faded and they became more of an obstacle rather than an aid to the students concerning their inquiries and needs. 
On the other hand, Abla Al Akhdar, principal of Ali Al Muhtaseb School, stressed the importance of this experience to her students in terms of encouraging them to engage in public affairs. Lozana Al-Karki, economics teacher in the school and supervisor of the girls team, said that their project was characterized by its enormity, for which the students worked with the municipality of Hebron, and implementing parties, and supervising parties in order to implement the Hussein Sports Stadium project whose funding reached approximately three million US dollars. It is worth not only to note the immense effort put during this last year, but also the happiness of the students for participating in such a pioneering project.   
Fadel Soliman, manager of the project in the Teacher Creativity Center, said that that this is a new and unique experience executed by the center as a complimentary effort and a civil service alongside official and popular efforts that call for an increase in transparency and accountability. He added that integrity in action is the motto of the funding organization (Terry), and it should become our motto too since we hear a lot of anecdotes about projects implemented with lack of transparency and accountability, and also about implemented projects that dont accomplish their goals and dont reach its beneficiaries for reasons such as lack of integrity, justice, and fairness in action. All of this confirms the importance of involving the citizen to uphold its role in monitoring what is going on, especially since the law provides the citizen with this right.