SIRA, Swedish International Relief Association, is a Swedish foundation with the aim of running two special schools in Palestine for children with various forms of learning difficulties. The goal is for more Palestinian children to complete their basic education.

The SIRA schools in Bethlehem and Jericho together have approximately 145 students aged 5 – 11 years.

The children study for 1 – 3 years at the special schools and are then transferred to the regular schools with new knowledge and tools to deal with their respective learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, concentration difficulties and/or neuropsychiatric difficulties.

The SIRA schools are the only special schools in Palestine.

The SIRA schools’ recipe for success is:

  • Early training with special educational methods.
  • Small classes.
  • Well-educated teachers who receive continuous training in terms of disabilities, learning difficulties, methods in special pedagogy, etc.
  • Good contact with parents.
  • It is very important for the parents’ cooperation, awareness of the approach to the students and knowledge of the methods the schools provide for the children so that they can actively support their children.

SIRA also works to spread knowledge and experiences about learning disabilities and special pedagogy to parents, teachers and staff in other schools, student teachers and education authorities and others in Palestine. The aim of this is to show that students with disabilities, such as reading and writing difficulties and concentration difficulties, with the right support and methods during the early school years, can succeed in their further studies and become active citizens.

The SIRA foundation emerged within the free church movement, but is a politically and religiously independent foundation that operates based on a Christian value base of the equal value of everyone. The SIRA schools, which have existed since 1992, have an economy that is primarily based on contributions from individual monthly donors, second-hand shops and congregations in Sweden. Contributions from CATCH and other organizations are very important to be able to run these schools in a conflict-ridden country with a very weak economy. The SIRA schools are also financed by student fees and individual Palestinian donors. All work that takes place in Sweden is entirely voluntary.

All photos by Johan Bohman

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