Our school is characterized by diversity. We want every individual in our school community to feel welcomed and accepted. All Talitha Kumi students receive individually tailored support according to their capabilities and needs, allowing them to develop their full potential and talent.
Talitha Kumi is committed to the principles of inclusivity, and all our students, whether with or without a disability, live and learn together side by side. But we believe that inclusivity also means people from various religions and cultures, girls and boys alike, being treated and valued equally – those who perform well academically alongside those who need a little extra help with their learning.
People with Disabilities
In comparison with other countries, Palestine has a relatively high proportion of people with disabilities. They are frequently forced to the margins of society, while disability largely remains a taboo subject for the Palestinian public and the government. State support and aid for people with disabilities is utterly inadequate, and there are very few institutions and schools in the country that can accept them and provide them with the help they need.
Students with physical disabilities – who might be blind, or wheelchair users, for instance – are fully integrated into the girls’ boarding school and the school classes. The school already has a number of facilities that enhance mobility, such as an elevator and accessible bathrooms. All new buildings and refurbishment projects are barrier-free, such as the renovation in 2014 of the guest house, which is also used by the boarding school students and for examinations.
People of Different Religions and Cultures
Christian and Muslim students learn together at Talitha Kumi; only the religion lessons are taught separately. However, even here the idea of togetherness is promoted through “encounter sessions” where students can find out more about the other religion. Jointly celebrating Palestinian and German festivals and cultural events similarly fosters an acceptance of difference and peaceful cooperation. Christian and Muslim students gather at the start of every school day for an assembly which is led not only by teachers but also by students, forming an integral component of school life.
Palestinians and Germans share the leadership of the school and other key roles evenly, ensuring a fair balance of interests. There is also an equal division of tasks among class teachers. All important school materials are printed and published in two languages.
Girls and Boys
First established in Jerusalem as a home for Arab girls in 1851, Talitha Kumi also has a long tradition as a girls’ school. Its introduction of communal lessons for girls and boys in 1980 was a pioneering move in Palestine, a place where even today it is not self-evident that girls and boys will learn together. We view promoting equal rights and opportunities for both sexes in an overwhelmingly patriarchal society as an ongoing task.
Students with Additional Needs
Quite a few of our students have considerable special educational needs. Some learn at a slower pace, while others experience difficulty learning their native language Arabic, or with reading and writing. This might be because they have grown up in a problematic environment (such as a refugee camp), or, as is frequently the case, as a result of trauma brought about by the Israeli occupation.
Providing individual support for students who come from backgrounds that are not conducive to learning is just as important to us as helping those with exceptional capabilities. For the former we offer extra classes in Arabic and math. Bright students can take the German International Abitur, and we also award scholarships and encourage those with particular talents to participate in competitions for schools.
One aspect of our inclusivity concept is social adjustment: children from poor families can apply for a reduction in school fees. This is particularly important for larger Palestinian families. Currently around 100 children are eligible for a reduction in school fees of up to 100 percent.
In March 2014 a working group called Working Inclusively was set up. The minutes of the working group document its activities and give a precise overview of the current progress in planning and implementing our inclusivity concept. Training sessions and workshops for our teachers and nursery staff enable them to understand inclusivity and integrate it into their everyday work in a sensitive manner.
Fall 2015 saw the launch of a project in cooperation with a German speech therapy training institution, whose students absolve internships at Talitha Kumi supervised by their own trainers. While at the school the trainers conduct skill enhancement sessions on inclusivity for our teachers. We also plan to set up a therapeutic learning room equipped with special materials and a therapeutic exercise room suitable for various levels of physical activity.
With its Community College, a vocational school for the hotel and restaurant industry, Talitha Kumi has succeeded in setting up a particularly inclusive educational form. At the college we can offer young people who did not achieve their high-school leaving certificate, or whose results were poor, an opportunity to gain vocational qualifications.