Jihad Shojaeha

Ashoka Fellow
Palestine,
Fellow Since 2011
Palestinian Initative for Supporting Students

Citation

This profile was prepared when Jihad Shojaeha was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Jihad is introducing an innovative approach to addressing the issue of unequal access to higher education in Palestine and also breaking the cycle of poverty. Though many underprivileged students are determined and willing to pursue higher education, they are denied the opportunity because they lack the funds to pay for tuition. Even when given highly subsidized loans, their families fail to meet the payment deadlines due to poverty and high unemployment rates in the country.

Through the Student-to-Student Initiative, Jihad provides the funding for underprivileged students to attend university in Palestine in exchange for teaching and providing mentorship to underprivileged primary and secondary school students. As poor students do not have the luxury of hiring private tutors—a common trend in the Middle East given the poor quality of public education—the university students create and run tutoring programs for primary and secondary school children throughout Palestine.

Jihad’s initiative is unique in that he provides funding and loans to underprivileged university students and requires them to “pay back” the money by giving back to their community in the form of community service. The grants are not given to students based on merit and grades, but on the need and desire of the students to continue their education. This grassroots approach builds the idea of volunteerism and civic engagement among students while also providing them with the necessary funds to continue their education. Jihad’s approach assists young adults to attain higher education, while at the same time, builds the academic base of a younger generation of school children.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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