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Monday, 25 October. 2021
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy

Daoud Al Deek, Deputy Minister of Social Development:

  • We expect increased marginalization and an escalated crisis among marginalized and poor sectors
  • It is imperative to improve social protection systems in light of the Coronavirus crisis
  • We developed an emergency response plan of $34 million to combat the impacts of the Coronavirus, especially on poor and vulnerable sectors
Following is an interview conducted by “Hosted by MIFTAH’ with Mr. Al Deek:

**How has the Ministry of Social Development dealt with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic?

Since the start of the Coronavirus crisis, the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) realized the possible impacts of the pandemic would not be limited to health repercussions. We knew it would impact economic and social aspects and on people’s everyday lives, especially the most exposed. This pandemic constitutes a real threat to global security and economies, societies, families and individuals. In addition to the financial pitfalls pertaining to health care costs whereby countries have put in place regulations to contain the virus, families have begun to face difficulties from within. The standstill of most economic activity in most countries has resulted in a halt to sources of income for many families and individuals and therefore has increased their risk of exposure. Some countries addressed these disruptions in income for families and individuals by providing direct assistance to their citizens and to the business sector. Meanwhile, families and individuals remained vulnerable to exposure during this crisis in countries that do not have the necessary resources to provide support and assistance to their citizens and businesses. That is why we can expect an increase of marginalization and an escalation of the crisis among already marginalized and poor sectors. This calls for quick responses to this crisis that would improve systems of social protection for families and individuals and to provide fast assistance to them during states of emergency.

**What has the MoSD done to improve social protection systems?

Improving social protection systems during such crises is extremely important; effective responses to this crisis will play a crucial role in the protection of families and individuals, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized sectors such as women, children, the elderly and people with special needs. Hence, we are aware of how imperative it is to take action and formulate plans to provide protection for these sectors in addition to the sectors that could emerge as vulnerable as a result of this crisis, especially if it is protracted. At the forefront are limited or low-income families, the elderly, people with disabilities, employees of now-closed daycares and kindergartens, day laborers, families in quarantine, families of Covid-19 patients, assisted living facilities for the elderly and the disabled and juvenile centers. From day one, we were in cooperation with humanitarian institutions such as “Wafa” and the UAE Charitable Commission to provide food packages and disinfectants to shelters. We have been able to deliver food aid to many families, especially in Bethlehem

**Has the Ministry prepared an emergency plan?

Even though the MoSD is involved in emergency committees in the various governorates, it still prepared a rapid intervention plan in response to the Coronavirus, both in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The plan basically aims at improving conditions for poor and marginalized sectors to avoid any deterioration of their situation and also to guarantee food and health security for them. Moreover, this plan is aimed at meeting the emerging needs of the most affected sectors, with special focus on vulnerable sectors of priority such as those registered with the MoSD who live in extreme poverty, women working in daycares, day laborers in the local economy whose income was halted because of the crisis, women beneficiaries from the alimony fund and their families, the elderly and special needs persons who receive MoSD services and still open assisted living centers for the elderly, people with disabilities and other vulnerable sectors.

**What are the priorities for intervention in the Ministry’s emergency plan?

One: To help poor and marginalized families by offering financial support, e-coupons, food packages and basic cleaning products while taking into consideration that the needs of these families could change with time, depending on the duration of the crisis. This requires the development of a system responsive to the needs of these families.

Two: Offering financial assistance/income support to women working in daycares who were forced to stop working and therefore lost their livelihood because of the government’s preventative measures, especially in the West Bank.

Three: Offering financial assistance/income support to women working in kindergartens who were forced to stop working because of the government’s preventative measures. These women lost their income after kindergartens were closed, especially in the West Bank.

Four: Supporting centers (for the disabled and elderly) by providing cleaning products and food.

Five: Providing financial assistance/income support to day laborers in the local market who lost their incomes because of the government’s preventative measures, including the closure of markets and workplaces.

Six: Helping persons with special needs registered in the social assistance portal by providing them with basic cleaning necessities to protect them from contracting Covid-19.

In order for this plan to work, the private sector, civil society and international organizations need to support the ministry and help it provide sufficient financial resources to carry out this plan, which costs approximately $34 million.

**Which sectors do you think are the most impacted? How is the ministry meeting their needs, women in particular?

The ministry affords special attention to households headed by women. There are over 40% of families that benefit from the cash referral program, which are headed by women. This is why we developed an emergency response plan to confront the impacts of the pandemic, especially for poor and vulnerable sectors. We are working to mobilize funding for this plan, which focuses especially on women working in daycares and kindergartens, female heads of households, elderly women and those with disabilities.

Basri Saleh, Deputy Minister of Education: our emergency plan and procedures

Deputy Minister of Education, Basri Saleh talks to “Hosted by MIFTAH” about the most significant measures taken by the ministry in response to the Coronavirus pandemic:

In response to the pandemic, the Ministry closed all schools in Palestine and enacted its emergency plan. It took the following steps to guarantee continued communication between students and teachers regarding their syllabus so they could best invest their time throughout this period:

  • Setting up classes for teachers which students can join. This entails recorded classes and educational activities such as worksheets, presentations, educational video clips and sources available on the internet. A messenger group was also set for students to directly interact with teachers.

  • The use of interactive communication programs and virtual classrooms where the teacher can give lessons directly to the students and communicate with them on video chat or through Facebook Live.

  • Creating YouTube channels for each directorate. Each directorate recruited the help of teachers to film their lessons and then these classes were uploaded to the Ministry’s YouTube channel.

  • Launching of the “Secondary Online” website for the national matriculation exam where video-taped classes on various subjects are uploaded to help students study.

  • Providing high school seniors with trial test examples and their answer keys to help students prepare for their official exams.

  • Some directorates set up scheduled timetables with local radio stations to broadcast school lessons.

  • Securing the best possible investment in learning via school websites

  • Building an educational platform at the Ministry of Education

  • Following up on distance learning in the directorates to determine which adopted the best practices according to specific criteria and which reflected the most positively on teachers

  • Setting up support teams on health and mental awareness with the appropriate mechanisms to guarantee access for all students.

  • Continued broadcasting of high school matriculation lessons via the online website and on the directorates’ channels; ensuring quality control of these lessons and making them available so students can refer back to them at any time.

  • Continuing to upload educational content on the ministry’s portal.

Note: The content of this interview does not reflect the official opinion of MIFTAH. Responsibility of the information and views expressed in the interview lies entirely with the interviewee.

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