Birzeit Students: Students by Day, Census Enumerators by Night

As part of Birzeit University’s mission to integrate its students in the local community, the Deanship of Student Affairs, in cooperation with the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), organized 12-day training courses to prepare the students for a temporary fieldwork opportunity with the National Census Team staff in Ramallah and Al-Bireh governorate. The training coincides with the start of the 2017 Population, Housing, and Establishments Census.

The Dean of Student Affairs and PCBS handler at Birzeit University, Mohammad Al Ahmad said, “Our duty, as a higher education institution, is to cooperate and coordinate with the PCBS to make this national duty a success. This is also an opportunity for our students to benefit from practical, real-world experiences, the complement to the theoretical aspect of learning provided by our professors and instructors. This field work will also provide the students with a view of the inner-workings of the PCBS, as well as a certificate of experience, monetary rewards, and community work hours once their jobs are done.”

“The university,” he added, “has facilitated the job of the PCBS by providing an adequate number of student volunteers, well-equipped training rooms, and technical and logistical measures to fulfill this mission. It is the students’ responsibility to manage their times properly between exams, lectures, and training session; overall, the student turnout rate in the Census programs was high.”

The Assistant Director of the PCBS in Ramallah and Al-Bireh Governorate, Ashraf Hamdan,detailed the issues PCBS tackled when searching for new staff and thanked the Deanship, “We were facing a shortage of enumerators in Ramallah and Al-Bireh governorate, so we approached high school graduates – college students or not – and announced job vacancies.”

“At the Sharek Youth Forum, there were approximately 1892 applicants within only two weeks; however, only 800 of them showed up when we moved to the interview phase, and only 400 kept up when the training started, a part of which also dropped out when they knew the job conditions. And so, we’ve directly approached college students, considering how the nature of the job, which begins in the evening period, matches their college schedules. We’ve particularly emphasized that point, as most families in Ramallah and Al-Bireh governorate are working families who can be found in their homes between 3 and 6 pm,” he further said.

Fourth-year Media Journalism student at Birzeit Islam Hammad noted that the motive behind his participation in the PCBS training session was to find out the working mechanism of the PCBS: “I’ve always wanted to join the National Census Team crews, and to see for myself how they operate in actual work situations. This was also a chance to make use of my free time after a college day, and a good chance it was. These training sessions were extremely organized and informative, and I commend the Deanship of Student Affairs and the PCBS  crews.”