PMECC Reading Competition on its second year

The Pontifical Mission Educational and Cultural Center had launched for the second time the Reading Challenge and Competition, which involved only the 4th graders. Its aim was to engage children of their age to enjoy and develop the love for reading. Likewise, it has helped enhanced their reading habit and communication skills which came out to be a fun-filled entertainment especially during this time of the pandemic.

The contest which was done online was an opportune time for many students to spend long hours in reading storybooks instead of spending time in social media and in online gaming. This must be one of the positive effects of the pandemic wherein quite a number of young people glued in reading using various digital gadgets such as iPads, tablets, mobile phones, laptops, etc.

School-coordinators’ received orientation on how to help students access and use the PMECC Reading Competition Portal prior to its implementation, which ensured the efficient and effective coordination between the PMECC staff, school-teachers and students concerning the reading competition.

It started-off last 21st September 2020, just right after the First Reading Competition was finished, where thirty-eight (38) schools (25 government and 13 private) have enthusiastically participated in the whole Bethlehem Governorate. No limit was set in terms of the number of possible children-participants at the start of the contest, hence, around one-thousand three-hundred ninety-nine (1,399) students from different schools initially and immediately got animated and involved themselves in reading. Many have finished reading the required one-hundred (100) storybooks (85 Arabic and 15 English) provided to them online. Some of them must have done it alone while some others perhaps with a little help from their parents and/or teachers. They all went through the different elimination rounds, i.e. the Qualification, Preliminary and the Final Round with such determination. However, only one-hundred and thirty-eight (138) student-participants from 27 schools have successfully passed the First Elimination Round, which was narrowed down in lesser numbers as they continued on to the Second Elimination Round.

The final round of the contest set earlier got postponed several times due to the corona virus pandemic and the recent conflict and unrest that happened sporadically between Israelis and Palestinians. This long-awaited event finally took place at the Pontifical Mission Educational and Cultural Center last 26th of May 2021, from 8:00 am to 1:00pm wherein sixty-six (66) students competed for the individual category of three major prizes winners. The final stage which was done ‘on the spot’ was a real test of the student-participants’ ability to summarize, answer the required questions and provide values or lessons learned in the story. Divided into two groups/batches, the student-participants alternately went through the final round with ease. The risk and threat of the surge of the corona virus pandemic, was not a hindrance at all to continue and push through what they have started. Having qualified themselves for the final round has continued to motivate and give positive impulse to all those who had actively participated this time with renewed enthusiasm and energy. So, with mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement, the student-participants some of whom came accompanied either by their teacher-coordinator or some by their parents were determined to give their best and hoped to make it to the top-three.

The chosen storybooks have truly induced young students’ interest for reading, which many of them find it so delightful and challenging at the same time. Some videos and photos below have shown how some of these student-participants have responded, engaged and discovered the joy of reading.

With this project funded by the Pontifical Mission-Office in Jerusalem (PMP) and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Bethlehem Directorate, we hope that this young Palestinians will develop and improve their level of comprehension, analytical and creative thinking skills through reading as well. So, it will never be far from reality to have well-educated, highly professional young population who will be taking the lead role in serving and transforming the Palestinian society in a more responsible and pro-active way in the future, as a result of these children’s possibilities of being trained right now in this aspect.

Text by: Monnitte V. Monana