Birzeit University Extends Computer Club from Jalazoun Camp to Amari Camp
After attending their university lectures, a group of Birzeit University students head towards the computer club at Jalazoun camp every Saturday. These volunteers train young elementary school students in the camp how to program computer games and animated stories using the MIT programming language Scratch (see http://info.scratch.mit.edu/About_Scratch).
The project will soon be extended to the Amari refugee camp. The Najjad Zeenni Information Technology Center of Excellence (NZITCE) at Birzeit University, in cooperation with Siegen University in Germany, managed to obtain financing for another computer club at the Amari refugee camp. With the help of the Deanship of Student Affairs at the university, NZITCE project coordinator George Yerousis has recruited a new team of volunteers to work in the new club.
Educational specialist Abla Abu Naba’h prepared training materials for the program Scratch, targeting the age group that the team works with in the camp. She also supervises a Birzeit University team of volunteers.
Engineer Yasmeen Hashem, a graduate of Computer Systems Engineering from Birzeit, heads the team of volunteers and meets with them on a weekly basis to prepare training materials for the weekly session with the camp children.
At the end of each training period, the children publish their electronic games and stories on the Scratch website, where projects are posted. This enables children to communicate with their peers around the world and creatively exchange views and ideas.
Ultimately, NZITCE aspires to reach all Palestinian refugee camps and strengthen channels of communication with the university, through the computer clubs.
NZITCE director Ibrahim Abu Qtaish said says, "The Jalazoun and Amari computer clubs are open to school students aged 8 to 14 years old, where they learn principles of programming using the Scratch language and Google App Inventor, through which children can learn smart phone programming applications that use the Android System.”