On the occasion of Ramadan, students of Qatar-Finland International School (QFI School) have come together to create their own school-based charity.
At least 80 students from grades 7 and 8 were divided into five teams including Arts and Design, Research and Development, PR and Marketing, Finance, and Music and Media. Taking up certain roles, the students put together a charity drive as well as a Ramadan exhibition from 10 to 13 June 2018.
As part of the charity drive, students gathered donated items such as clothes, shoes, toys, games, canned foods and more in order to sell them and collect the money for donation. The public was also invited to donate any clean clothing items, toys and canned foods for the Qatar-Finland Charity. The money raised will go to a number of causes supported by the parents. An exhibition educated visitors about the science of fasting and the religious and cultural experience of Ramadan in different countries.
Although the project is student-led, it was originally launched by the faculty and staff of QFI School.
‘The main idea came from practical reasons. During Ramadan, generally students start to drop off from the school. A student’s perception of school and their attitude towards their studies tends to be less serious as well. As a team, we looked at how can we have a solution to this? How can we engage students in doing something? How can we do something that fits the values of Ramadan and Islamic values and also the educational philosophy of the school? So this is where the idea came about so we can combine the religious and spiritual elements of Ramadan with educational value,’ explained project leader and English teacher, Neel Shah.
QFI School provides world-class education, based on the Finnish curriculum and education practices. QFI School is an inspirational learning environment for girls and boys up to Grade 9. All teachers in the school have teacher qualifications and are trained in evidence-based teaching and learning methods used in Finland.
QFI follows a localised version of the Finnish National Core Curriculum which is in accordance with Qatari standards. The main language of teaching is English, but because the school values language, everyone in the community is also learning Arabic.
The school was established under the Outstanding Schools Initiative, which aims to open additional private international schools in Qatar over the coming years. ‘Outstanding schools’ are invited to participate in the Ministry’s Educational Vouchers programme and are selected from a pool of applicants in the UK, the US and Europe.
Healthy level of stress
Supervised by their teachers throughout the three-week long project, students learned a wide range of practical skills that will help them in their future careers. In order to be included in the team, the students had to apply by writing a CV along with a cover letter stating their interests. Neel said that the idea for this project is to also give students some genuine real life practical skills.
For me especially as an English teacher, something I consider a lot is, is what I’m teaching my students going to help them later in life? And this project has given them a healthy level of stress but a genuine purpose because they have to meet with members of the public. They would have to engage with the school community and the whole project is going towards a good cause.’
Neel said that by the end of the project, the students can walk quite proud for being part of something that actually helped people in need.
I think this is a real idea for us and the students – that it’s for a good cause but at the same time, it’s something that will really develop their skills and that’s core for us as a school. So they’ll come out of this with more skills in a range of different areas.
He said that overall, the project has been really useful in improving the students’ communication, team work, self-motivation, and a whole range of skills that an employer would look at favourably.
Thirteen-year-old Chilean student Martin Parada Berrios from Grade 8B, who created a 10-minute documentary, said that the charity initiative is an amazing idea.
It was really nice. It was something different. Every Ramadan, we usually just have class, fall asleep because we wake up early, and be hungry. Now we have this project and it’s fun because we get to do something a lot different than just learning science, math and things we do every single day. And plus it’s for a cause. Ramadan is all about giving and being nice. So charity is an amazing idea!’
Part of the PR and Marketing team are Lara Soubra and Fatima Ahmed who were selected for their social media and team work skills. The team had to produce and manage the website and social media, and find a sponsor amongst other things.
‘We also collected the donations, we sorted them out, we priced them and we also communicated with other teams such as the audio visual team and the art team to pick out the logo and music for charity,’ said the 12-year-old Lebanese student Lara from grade 7A.
‘Our team finished the fastest out of all the other teams. After we finished with our tasks, we went and helped out other groups in the last week,’ added the 13-year-old Qatari Fatima from grade 8A. ‘It was really nice. It was a life-changing experience,’ said Lara about the project.
A 13-year-old Jordanian student, Zeena Husan, from class 8B joined the Research and Development team. She said:
‘Our role was to make an exhibit that would display different parts of Ramadan. For example, my group was a science group and we talked about how fasting can effect the body, exceptions for fasting, and basically intermittent fasting. The project taught us more about how to work with different types of people. It was a process of getting materials, doing the research and splitting the work. It also gave us skills that we’re going to use in the workplace.’
Through the Qatar-Finland Charity initiative, the students as well as their teachers hope to raise at least QAR5,000. To help with donations, contact project leader, Neel Shah at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Ola Diab; Photographs by Lalaine Turqueza
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