Ramallah Friends School, Making Peace Possible
Ramallah Friends School is making peace possible.
I visited Ramallah Friends School (RFS) last week and was given a wonderful tour and introduction by Mr. Jeries Abu Al-Ezam the Deputy Principal of Friends Boys School (which despite its name is coeducational) . Quakers have had a presence in education in Ramallah for nearly a hundred and fifty years , starting with a Friends Girls School, providing an education to girls in a time when that was not the custom.
Today the RFS teaches from Kindergarten/ Pre School to Grade 12 at two sites in Ramallah catering to a total of 1400 students. I was visiting the Upper School which is about a mile distant from the lower school.
This school is the leading school in Palestine and is perhaps one of the leading schools in the Middle East. It has continued to be a beacon of light preparing generations of students for third level education and onward careers and leadership roles in government the sciences and arts in the Middle East and around the world.
Students follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program and students go on from here to universities in the Middle East and further afield to the extent of 93% of the graduating classes. The school follows Quaker principles and a holistic approach to the education of children and youth.
As I walked through the halls and to the classrooms, I was greeted constantly by energetic, enlivened, happy students. It felt like a happy place with lots of positive energy.
Ramallah Friends School has a wonderful website at www.rfs.edu.ps where you will find a lot more information than I can right here about the school and its activities.
The new Middle School is a brand new building with beautiful airy classrooms with tons of natural light coming in. The building design also incorporates a roof rainwater recovery system, an important feature in a country where water is a scarce and valuable resource.
The school also provides students with the opportunity to recycle organic matter and grow their own vegetables in the gardens and greenhouses on the school grounds. It truly is an impressive example of Education catering to the whole child.
In a progressive move to ensure financial stability the school partnered with a developer and built a large commercial building on land they own near the school under a BOT agreement (Build Operate and Transfer) to provide income and a future asset.
I met with Nuha Ackall one of the teachers who has been teaching at the school for 25 years. At present, she teaches Ethics; previously she taught math and science.
I asked her what teaching Ethics meant and she said “it’s simply the Ethics of responsible living – Ethics in the school, Ethics at home and at work, Ethics in the country where we live with others and our environment”. I thought this fits well with Quaker values which is a strong element in all aspects of the life of RFS.The art rooms Wow ! – they were beautiful – there was an abundance of art materials available and some of the renditions by the students were truly impressive including the copy of the ‘sunflowers’ sunflowers by Van Gogh! (a student with a possible future in copying grandmasters !?).
I left Ramallah Friends School, feeling happy that this Quaker school has survived all the wars, and political turmoil that have battered Palestine for the past 100 years and that it continues to project a bright and positive future in a land where that is often hard to find.
Some Facts About the Ramallah Friends School
THE RAMALLAH FRIENDS SCHOOL (RFS) is a Pre-Kindergarten through 12, co-educational Quaker school with two beautiful campuses in the neighbouring towns of Ramallah and El-Bireh. RFS offers all students a wide range of academic and extracurricular activities that encourage students to become global thinkers and lifelong learners.
The Upper School is comprised of six buildings, including a brand new middle school, high tech science laboratories, an educational garden, 250-seat auditorium, a turf football field and track, and indoor basketball court and gymnasium. The Lower School serves its students in four buildings, with a recently constructed state-of-the-art Kindergarten building, outdoor turf field, gymnasium and recently renovated library.
RFS prides itself on its rigorous and world-class curricula. RFS is the only school in Palestine to be considered an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for it offers the Diploma Program for 11th and 12th grade students, the Middle Years Program for grades 6 through 10, and is currently a candidate school for the Primary Years Program (PYP) for ages 3 to 12 years old. From Kindergarten through 12th grade, students learn to think critically with global mindsets. RFS uses the Quaker principles as a guide in educating its students and the next generation of Palestinian leaders
Quaker Friends work in Ramallah began in 1869 with a number of small schools for girls in the surrounding villages. In 1889 the Friends Girls School opened as “The Girls Training Home of Ramallah”. The Lower School was founded in 1895 as the Friends Girls School. The Upper School was founded in 1901 as the Friends Boys School.
A local Board of Trustees in partnership with Friends United Meeting (FUM) of Richmond, Indiana, USA, governs RFS. The FUM appoints the School Director and senior board members.
Faculty and Staff Profile
We currently employ over 165 highly-qualified faculty and staff members, mostly from the local community along with a number of international teachers. Along with our school principals, a number of Department Heads are responsible for the development of the curricula and encouraging teachers to use innovative teaching methods. Training programs are an essential part of the professional development of all teachers; IB, MYP, and PYP teachers are required to attend official IBO training conferences. The student to teacher ratio is 1:12.
Students Enrolled 2016/2017
Upper School: 724 Lower School: 689 Total: 1413
51% Boys; 49% Girls
93 percent of RFS graduates enter four-year colleges and universities.