Construction of an educational buildings in Gaza Gaza – Mohammad Habib Mohamed Abu Shukaire, the Undersecretary for the Education Ministry in the Gaza Strip, said that this year has witnessed huge leaps in the education sector, which included a huge increase in the construction of a number of educational buildings, as well as equipping them with laboratories and modern technology facilities. He explained in an interview with Arabstoday that his ministry was able to achieve progress in the field of vocational training. He cited that this has been the first time that a law for education has been prepared, which has been submitted to the Legislative Council so that they may endorse it. Abu Shukaire said: “We were able to appoint 3500 teachers who had been working on a contractual basis. They now have been converted to permanent employees.” He explained that his ministry has achieved a quantum leap in preparing guidance for teachers that helps them with their work. He added that the ministry had trained its teachers in modern educational means, pointing out that the ministry had made agreements with neighbouring countries in the field of training teachers. In regards to this years activities which has been endorsed by the council of ministers under the slogan “Quality Education,” he said that the ministry has launched a campaign in participation with the Religious Endowments ministry to address some of the behavioural issues as well as offering advice to students. He pointed out that his ministry is in continuous communication with its counterpart in Ramallah to develop and enhance syllabuses, adding that amendments have been made to the Religion and English language subjects in addition to a permanent consultation committee, which has been formed to serve in regards to amending the syllabuses. As for the decision of teaching Hebrew, Abu Shukaire said that Hebrew will be taught to students of grades IX and X for the educational year 2012/2013. “We are still under the occupation which speaks Hebrew. Most of the commodities in the market are written in Hebrew, so learning this language is beneficial”, he explained. However, he mentioned that it will be optional, so students can choose to study Hebrew among other options of studying other subjects. He also noted that this is an experimental step that will be applied on a sample of schools. Regarding the exams of the General Secondary School, Abu Shukaire said that exams were of a moderate difficulty level , although there were complaints that some exams were more tasking than others. He commended the continuous coordination with the Ramallah government and the unification of the exams and of the results announcements. He added that they are adopting a new approach in the General Secondary School that would reduce the stress on students. The undersecretary added that the scientific research council has been established by a ministerial decree. He said that the council seeks to set the ministry policies related to the scientific research and technological development, and to support the research institutions.