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New class of Palestinian coders moves to online-only study
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 02 - 08 - 2020

A new cohort of software development students in the West Bank is beginning their studies remotely on Saturday (Aug. 1), through the Anera+RBK PLUS program. Under normal, non-COVID circumstances, the coding students would be coming together in person for 20 weeks of training and team-building. Anera has adapted the program to the current health crisis by moving entirely to online learning.
The first two weeks will consist of self-paced precourse work, to be followed by classwork as a team, which starts on Aug. 15. During the pre-course phase, program instructors will be coaching and mentoring the students on a daily basis.
About the unique challenges posed by the necessary shift to online-only classes, Denise Habash, the program manager for Anera+RBK PLUS, said, "The real challenge is ultimately, building community online. If you can do this, everything else falls into place.
"The good news is our online learners are not only engaged, but actively contributing ways to reinforce community.
"Despite the obvious technical challenges with outages in Gaza, we have had much initial success in building community online. Our learning is collaborative so across the day our learners are constantly interacting with one another, in a digital communal space where we can be humans together, joke together, meditate together, play games and share bits and pieces of our lives."
The new cohort of 51 students are from communities across the West Bank, including Hebron, Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem, Bethlehem, Tubas and Jerusalem. Sixty percent are women and all of the students are between 18 and 35 years old.
The students have joined this program as a means to a brighter future, eager to find a job after graduation to support their families. Like many talented young people in Palestine, they have struggled to find full employment despite their ambition and passion.
Most have some college education but have been unable to find a job. For many of them, it will be a change of careers.
Habash said, "PLUS is an incredible opportunity for Palestinians to reboot their lives, ultimately raising their standard of living and furthering self-determination."
"And in Gaza, the current cohort is in the final six week phase of their class. We have been able to bring these students together for the final phase, owing to the absence thus far of community transmission in Gaza. Anera will be announcing further upcoming cohorts soon." — SG


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