Violence in Palestinian Authority boys schools in the Occupied West Bank

By Mai Abu Moghli
Submitted to Session P4322 (Success as Subjugation: Palestinian Education under Settler Colonialism, 2016 Annual Meeting
Colonialism; Education; Human Rights;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Schooling is usually considered good for pupils. However, schooling does not automatically link with enlightenment, progress and liberty. Schools are authoritarian institutions, often engendering suffering, frustration and alienation. In the Occupied West Bank, Palestinian male students in PA schools endure various forms of physical, psychological, verbal, sexual and structural violence. For those students, the layers of suffering, alienation and frustration caused by schooling as a process and institution are exacerbated by the context of Israeli colonial occupation and its practices against Palestinians as subjugated population.
Acts of violence against male students occur inside and around schools. Violence is inflicted on students within schools by other students, teaching and administrative staff, for example through bullying or corporal punishment, or resulting from Ministry of Education policies and practices. Inside, around and outside schools, students endure violence in all forms by the Occupation army and Jewish colonial settlers in addition to possible PA crackdown on students engaged in political activism. The forms of violence practiced against male students aim at the subjugation of their bodies [and minds], and the marginalization of their capabilities. Some students normalize violence, perceiving it to be part of school life, others consider the school a site of resistance where they can experiment with and experience their agency.
This paper, based on in-depth ethnographic research, aims to answer the question: what are the sources, forms and implications of violence inflicted on male Palestinian students in PA schools in the Occupied West Bank?
The available literature related to education in Palestine, in its majority, concentrates on issues of access, outcomes of education as a process, evaluations and assessments, and physical conditions of schools’ facilities and infrastructure. There is some recognition of violence in schools, however issues of discrimination against and alienation experienced by refugee students or those students from marginalized backgrounds are absent from the literature. Sexual violence is hardly ever mentioned in spite the fact that the topic is prominent in interviews with male students.
This paper is an opportunity to amplify voices of male students who experience not only overt, but also hidden and overlooked violence throughout their schooling years. The paper unearths forms, sources and the long-term damaging and far-reaching consequences of violence endured by students. It challenges gender stereotypes whereby males in the Palestinian society are expected to endure violence as a norm, or seen as the source of violence.