Arab Episcopal School (AES)
There has been a lot in the press about children in Lincolnshire needing to broaden their horizons and have a greater awareness of children from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds to ourselves. Thanks to the work of the Parish of Louth, we have recently established a link with the Arab Episcopal School in Irbid, Jordan!
The Arab Episcopal School (AES) was founded in September 2003 by Rev. Samir Esaid and Mrs. Sabah Zurikat through the Anglican Church in the Middle East. It started as an integrative kindergarten to reach the blind and visually impaired children of northern Jordan. Many of these children had spent their lives out of the public eye due to a cultural emphasis on shame and honour: if a family member has a disability their time spent in public will often be restricted for fear that their family name will be ruined, therefore putting other siblings at risk of not getting married.
Through the work at AES, these children are now given an opportunity to go to school and learn to read and write, as well as interact in a natural and safe environment alongside their sighted peers.
When the school began in 2003, it consisted of only a kindergarten class, which included one blind and one low-vision student. By the end of that school year, the student population had grown to include six blind and four low-vision students.
Today AES is the only school of its kind in Jordan that works to integrate sighted, low-vision and blind students. Currently, the school educates 17 blind children, 17 low-vision students, 141 sighted students.
A key focus for the school is, therefore, integrating blind and low vision students with sighted students, providing all with the best educational and social opportunities. Like all schools, AES want to develop individual student’s academic capabilities as well as their character by providing them with peace education that is built on democracy, respect of human rights, an emphasis on volunteer work and being good stewards of the environment.
Like St. Michael’s, the AES has firm school values: Respect, Truth, Love, Giving, Honesty & Peace.
Some of our KS2 children have written profiles about themselves and sent these to children at AES. Amidst great excitement, we were delighted in October to receive personalised letters in return (written in English rather than Arabic!) Our next project is to share information about our school, Louth and our surroundings. In return, we hope to learn a little more about Irbid, their customs and growing up in Jordan.
We also hope, thanks to the wonders of technology, to have face-to-face ‘video conferencing’ to allow the children to see each other and we are delighted that one of our parents will be able to translate for us! This is an exciting opportunity for our school and one which, over the coming years, we could all benefit from.