Redefining learning environments in conflict areas : a Palestinian case study
Author(s)Kotob, Jenine (Jenine Shaban)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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This thesis is an exploration of learning environments in the West Bank of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) as administered by private, refugee and public school systems. In considering the insularity of learning environments in the OPT, this thesis finds that despite increased school construction since 1994, public and refugee student drop-out rates have increased, enrollment rates have decreased, academic achievement is low, and students suffer from stress. It is hypothesized that if schools are conceptualized as part of a broader learning environment, then the socio-spatial issues impacting student success may be improved. To test this hypothesis, learning environments in the OPT are examined with a two-fold methodology: historical and architectural. The two-fold analysis utilizes a conceptual framework, where child, building, neighborhood context, and education system, are understood as the four components of a learning environment. The historical analysis is framed from the Late-Ottoman era until today and follows changing theories of education in parallel with the changing relationship between schools and the socio-spatial reality of the conflict. Results from the historical analysis indicate that educational institutions often cannot operate during times of crisis, leading local family and teacher networks to develop informal education systems in unconventional spaces. It is determined that learning environments must be able to adapt to the conflict and must embrace local communities as architectural, spatial, and social resources. This finding serves as a critical foundation for the architectural analysis. The architectural analysis uses data collected from field work at 24 schools in the West Bank in August of 2012 through informal interviews with locals, photography, and journaling. The data reveal that the socio-spatial contexts of each school are unique due in part to divisions of the land. In order to limit the number of variables, special focus was given to three schools in Ramallah, which is a unique enclave that encompasses within it the socio-spatial realities of other enclaves in the West Bank. Taking from the lessons of each school system, it is concluded that new learning environments in the Occupied Palestinian Territories must positively respond to the bleak structures of the occupation by becoming programmatically diverse, architecturally innovative, and spatially integrated in order to create new and less insular cultural centers of which the students and communities can be proud. This thesis concludes with recommendations for educationalists, architects and development professionals that stem from revelations in the historical analysis and results from the architectural analysis. Learning environments must span outwards allowing for an expansion of school resources, a broadening of learning experiences for youth, and the unification of Palestinians in order to improve the socio-spatial disorder of the occupation.
Thesis (S.M. in Architecture Studies)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2013.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 168-173).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology