Non-formal education in the Middle East: Giving adolescents a second chance
from Curt Rhodes' article on unicef.org:
In May 2005 violence exploded during a soccer game among students who had just enrolled in their town’s first NFE class. Angry over a lost goal, Humam kicked his younger teammate Ayman to the ground. This kind of violence early in the programme jeopardized the entire approach to alternative education. Ayman was a shy, defenseless boy. Other boys like him might feel threatened, and the safety of the learning environment might dissolve if violence went unchecked.
The teaching facilitators decided that the violent incident would best be resolved by the students themselves ruling on justice for the harmed and a penalty for the offender. They announced a trial – with students taking the roles of judge, jury, prosecution and defense – and explained the legal process to the two boys and the other students.
The trial took place that same day. The jury found Humam guilty; the judge sentenced him to apologize to Ayman and granted Ayman the right to hit Humam back but reminded him that he also had the option to forgive Humam. As Ayman moved to hit Humam, the other students circled around. “I could feel the power of friends who cared about both of us,” Ayman said. “Then something changed inside me. I no longer wanted to hit him.”
It has been nearly six years since that trial and, today, both young men say it was the most important thing that ever happened to them. The teaching facilitators observed how well the students responded to learning through action and dialogue, and how much it bolstered their critical thinking. One said, “We saw these youth emerge as new people in this new kind of learning environment.”
Read the whole article.