Impoverished Gazans lament stagnant livestock market

Palestinians prepare a young bull for slaughter on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip on August 11, 2019, as Muslims across the world celebrated the first day of the Feast of Sacrifice, which marks the end of the hajj pilgrimage to Makkah.(AFP / SAID KHATIB)
Updated 11 August 2019

Impoverished Gazans lament stagnant livestock market

  • Traders and customers blame stagnant market on unprecedented levels of poverty

GAZA CITY: Livestock traders in Gaza are frustrated by the reluctance of Palestinians to buy sacrificial livestock for Eid Al-Adha because of the deteriorating economic situation. Many locals lack purchasing power due to the Israeli siege and a wage crisis.

Traders and customers blamed the stagnant market on unprecedented levels of poverty.

In order to encourage people to buy, livestock owners have resorted to a system of sale by installments. Others are skeptical of this system, fearing the inability of some to pay, especially in light of the financial crisis experienced by Palestinian Authority (PA) employees.

Mohammed Khadr and five friends agreed to join together and buy a sacrificial calf by payments in monthly installments.

Khadr, a 53-year-old taxi driver, said he would not have been able to buy it without the installment system. He said he and his friends have agreed to buy a calf in installments of 1,800 shekels ($510) per person over nine months.

Khadr said that he used to always buy the Eid sacrifice outright, but he would not have bought it for the past three years without help from the installment system.

Despite the system, Mohammed Al-Assar said he would not buy a sacrifice for the third year in a row because of the salary crisis.

“I have used the Eid sacrifice for a decade. We had income, but now with the big deduction on salaries, I have not been able to buy a sacrifice over the past two years,” said Al-Assar, a PA employee.

He said that the salary drop caused a deterioration in the living conditions of thousands of PA employees in Gaza. He added that some of them are barely able to provide basic necessities, while many are exhausted by debts and loans.

Since April 2017, the PA has imposed financial cuts on the salaries of more than 50,000 employees in the Gaza Strip, ranging from 30 to 50 percent per capita.

“The majority of those who buy the sacrifices this year are friends and acquaintances, according to the financial installment system,” said Abu Karim Al-Satari, a livestock merchant who owns a farm in the southern Gaza Strip.

He added that the low demand for sacrifices comes despite a decline in prices compared with previous years. This, he said, is due to the deteriorating economic conditions of the majority of the population.

According to Al-Satari, the average price ranges from 16 to 20 shekels per kg.

The Israeli siege and internal Palestinian political divisions have caused a collapse in the living conditions of about 2 million Palestinians, most of whom depend on humanitarian assistance provided by the UN.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, about 53 percent of the population of the Gaza Strip are impoverished.

Cattle merchant Aziz Afanah agrees with Al-Satari that “the livestock market for this year is witnessing a marked decline in the demand to buy sacrifices due to a lack of cash and purchasing power of the majority of Gazans.”

But Afanah, despite the sharp recession in the livestock market, refuses to sell in installments to avoid problems of inability to pay.

“Selling by installments needs guarantees, and in Gaza there is no guarantee after the majority of people entered the cycle of financial crisis,” he said.

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

Updated 23 August 2019

Cairo turns to Tokyo for a lesson on education

  • The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide

CAIRO: Egypt is seeking Japan’s help to improve its education system, which has fallen to 130th place in international rankings.

The Japanese education system is recognized as one of the top five worldwide, and Cairo is hoping to apply key aspects of Japan’s approach to the Egyptian curriculum.

Education has played a major role in transforming Japan from a feudal state receiving aid following World War II to a modern economic powerhouse. 

During a visit to Japan in 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi discussed political and economic development with Japanese officials, and was also briefed on the Japanese education system.

The Egyptian leader visited Japanese schools and called on Japan to help Egypt introduce a similar system in its schools.  

As part of Egyptian-Japanese cooperation, Japan’s embassy established cultural cooperation as well as technical and professional education links between the two countries. Collaboration has been strengthened from kindergarten to post-university, with Japanese experts contributing in various education fields.

Japanese experts have held seminars in schools across the country, focusing on basic education. 

During one seminar, Japan highlighted the importance of enhancing education by playing games during kindergarten and primary school, encouraging children’s ability and desire to explore.  

Education expert Ola El-Hazeq told Arab News that the Japanese system focuses on developing students’ sense of collective worth and responsibility toward society. This starts with their surrounding environment by taking care of school buildings, educational equipment and school furniture, for example.

“Japanese schools are known for being clean,” El-Hazeq said. “The first thing that surprises a school visitor is finding sneakers placed neatly in a locker or on wooden shelves at the school entrance. Each sneaker has its owner’s name on it. This is a habit picked up at most primary and intermediate schools as well as in many high schools.”

Japanese students also clean their classrooms, collect leaves that have fallen in the playground and take out the garbage. In many cases, teachers join students to clean up schools and also public gardens and beaches during the summer holidays.

El-Hazeq added that neither the teachers nor the students find it beneath their dignity to carry out such chores.

The academic year in Japan continues for almost 11 months, different from most other countries, with the Japanese academic year starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year.

Japan’s school days and hours are relatively longer in comparison with other countries. Usually the school day is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teachers normally work until 5 p.m. but sometimes up to 7 p.m. Holidays are shorter than in other countries. Spring and winter holidays are no longer than 10 days, and the summer holiday ranges from 40 to 45 days.