MO in Palestine

Mathematical Olympiad in Palestine

I try to lead a normal life as possible and not think about my condition or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many.

Stephen Hawking

1. Mathematical Olympiad in Palestine


Dr. Sari Ghanemas the founder and the chair of the Al-Khwarizmi-Noether Institute — it is part of the foundation of the institute that Dr. Sari Ghanem will remain a pure volunteer forever for all his activities in the institute –, is recruiting each year the best students in Palestine among the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Grades, through a Mathematical Olympiad selection test which takes place in Palestine.

The 2019 Mathematical Olympiad took place on July 27, 2019. There were students who came out to take the test from 110 schools in Palestine, from both public and private schools, with more public than private. The 2019 Math Olympiad test was offered in four centres in Palestine: one centre in Bethlehem, one in Jenin, one Nablus, and one in Ramallah. In the year 2019, AKNI opened a new test centre in Jenin. The twenty winners obtained a full fellowship to participate in a two-weeks Math Summer Camp in August 2019 ran by Dr. Sari Ghanem.

The 2018 Mathematical Olympiad took place on June, 09, 2018, and there were 453 enrolled participants, with 229 female and 224 male, from 110 schools in Palestine, with 66 public and 44 private. The exactly first 20 middle-schoolers who scored best in the 2018 Mathematical Olympiad, were exactly 10 female and 10 male, who won the 2018 Mathematical Olympiad. The 2018 Math Olympiad test was offered in four centres in Palestine: one centre in Bethlehem, one in Nablus, and two in Ramallah. In the year 2018, AKNI opened a new test centre in Nablus.

The 2017 Mathematical Olympiad test in Palestine took place on May, 06, 2017, and there were 493 participants from both various public and private schools in Palestine. There were 26 middle-schoolers who won the 2017 Mathematical Olympiad.

The winners of the Mathematical Olympiad test get a fellowship from the Al-Khwarizmi-Noether Institute (AKNI) to participate in a two weeks AKNI Mathematical Summer Camp in August, in Bethlehem, Palestine, created and taught by Dr. Sari Ghanem as a pure voluntary work, but he can hire trainers to assist him for pay. In the AKNI Math Summer Camp, these selected students get trained for the International Mathematical Olympiad. The selected students get also the opportunity to participate in a follow-up training during the academic year, where the students of AKNI receive regularly worksheets and submit their solutions online and obtain feedback.

After many years of training, based on the performance of the students in the math Summer Camps and in the follow-up training during the academic years, on one hand, Dr. Sari Ghanem selects students among the participants to form a Palestinian team to participate at the International Mathematical Olympiad, and on the other hand, Dr. Sari Ghanem selects students among the participants to get a fellowship from the Al-Khwarizmi-Noether Institute to go to world top universities.

No selection is made by the schools, but all Palestinian students who wish to take the test and are between the sixth and ninth Grades, are invited to register for the Mathematical Olympiad (M.O.). However, we ask the schools in Palestine to make publicity for the test and ensure that their students who feel that they have a mathematical talent in each of Grade 6, 7, 8, and 9, do actually participate, yet, the students can register for the test without the agreement of the directors or of the teachers of the schools. Students in a Grade higher than the 9th and lower than the 6th Grade are not allowed to take the test.

The performance of the participants in their schools is totally irrelevant; the participants are selected only based on the Mathematical Olympiad test of the Al-Khwarizmi-Noether Institute which aims to select students not based on their knowledge this will not be a factor for selection –, but rather based on their potential, talent and motivation to learn, which will be by far the most important factors for selection, regardless of whether they have just finished the 6th, 7th, 8th or the 9th Grade. The motivation of the student to learn can be examined through an interview in addition to the Mathematical Olympiad test. The selected students will be awarded a fellowship to participate in a math Summer Camp as described in the follwoing section.

For more details, see IMO Project for PalestineMath Summer Camps and Photo Gallery, and please see the below:

Remark 1.1. Quality work on a purely voluntary basis:

Dr. Sari Ghanem will never get paid for any activity whatsoever (neither for the teaching, nor for the organization); it is part of the registered founding articles of AKNI that Dr. Sari Ghanem will remain forever a pure volunteer.

2. Math Summer Camps for the Winners of the Mathematical Olympiad in Palestine


There are several Math Summer Camps, each at a different level, each last for two weeks; the winners of the Mathematical Olympiad in Palestine are awarded a fellowship to participate in one of these Summer Camps. The students who participate in the beginner level will not be less strong than the ones in the intermediate or advanced levels; many factors enter in creating such a partition taking into consideration the age and the Grade of the student, for example whether the student is in the 6th or the 9th Grade.

2.1. When and where?

The Math Summer Camps take place normally in August. The teaching in classrooms, the three meals for all the participants, and the guesthouse for sleeping, all take place in one closed center for each Summer Camp in the Bethlehem area in Palestine. Al-Khwarizmi-Noether Institute (AKNI) pays for the accommodation for all the participants, and AKNI handles  all the other expenses. As of today, the source of funding of AKNI is private donations from the personal salary of mathematicians and grants from the highest math institutions in the world.

The instruction takes place for two weeks, for 5 full days of instruction per week, Monday through Thursday and on Saturday. For Sundays and Fridays, there are cultural-social activity with all the participants in the Math Summer Camp. The time schedule is described in Section 2.5..

2.2. Who are the participants?

The participants of the Math Summer Camps are:

  • new middle-schoolers recruited based on their performance in the M.O.,
  • some of the students who participated in the previous Math Summer Camps by AKNI,
  • students in Palestinian universities, of which many are female students, recruited one by one by Dr. Sari Ghanem himself so that they:
    1. attend fully the instruction, take notes and learn the material covered in the math camp;
    2. take care of the middle-schoolers;
    3. assist the instructors in the organization.
  • top mathematical olympiad trainers hired by AKNI, and Dr. Ghanem who is instructing on a pure voluntary basis.

For each of the Math Summer Camps, there are about 20 middle-schoolersabout 4 Palestinian universities students and at least 2 math olympiad trainers, with a total of about 26 participants per Math Summer Camp.

2.3. How does the program run?

There are six hours of formal instruction per day, split into one session in the morning and one in the afternoon, separated by one hour and a half break to have lunch together. The rest of the time is informal math discussions, math games, math presentations, etc On the weekend, there are social activities in the program, funded by the Summer Camp, so that the students and the trainers could interact in a less formal way: such as a visit to the Math Museum at Al-Quds University; a small orchestra invited to play at an organised dinner with the students and the trainers and to explain the history of the music they play; an active collective visit of the city with a detailed map given to each student to learn how to use a map (there are local assistants from the city who accompany us); a visit of a library to teach the students how to use it; etc

The Summer Camp provides  books, notebooks, pens, handouts, and all necessary material for the students and the instructors. A certificate of participation in the program is provided for each student who attended and participated in the program; this could include an evaluation of the performance.

Remark  2.1.

As the director of the program, Dr. Sari Ghanem reserves himself the right to make any changes during the Summer Camp based on feedback from trainers and from students, or due to any unforeseen circumstances, etc


2.5 Time-schedule of the Summer Camp

Monday - Thursday
& Saturday
07:45-08:45Open Breakfast
(On the last day of each of the two Summer Camps, this would be an exam session 09:00-12:30.)
12:45-14:15Collective Lunch Break
(On the first day of each of the two Summer Camps, this would be an opening lecture with the parents
of the students, where they also need to sign papers.)

(on Wednesdays, this is replaced by sports at the gym)
18:30-20:00 Collective Dinner Break

Fridays and SundaysActivity - ObjectiveWhere
08:00-09:00Collective BreakfastDining Hall
FridayCultural-Social activity
(learn how to listen to classical music)
- Collective lunch and dinner
Attend a cultural music performance
with explanation on the history of the music.

Collective visit of the city through a map given to each student, and provide explanation on the history of the city.
SundayCultural-Social activity
(interact, learn how to use a map and orientate in a city)

Collective lunch and dinner
Visit to the Meet Math Museum at Al-Quds University

Guided visit of a library and provide explanation on how to consult the books.

2.6. How to implement the I.M.O. training program.

The members of Al-Khwarizmi-Noether Institute are world class research mathematicians, at the highest international level, professional Olympiad trainers and instructors, who have long-time experience in training strong teams and individuals for various math competitions, including the International Mathematical Olympiad. All these mathematicians are providing all their expertise, help and support to create the actual mathematical content of the program and to deliver it.

The Mathematical Olympiad is advertised through the schools in Palestine and through posters put in Palestine to invite all Palestinian students in the 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th Grade to take the test, if they feel that it would be suitable for them to give it a tryThe registration procedure is advertised on the poster and on the website of AKNI. In particular, the students can sign-up directly by themselves and will not need to go through their schools nor to have their agreement in order to register for the test.

The Olympiad trainers do not only train, but they create a curriculum for Palestine based on their experience with the students’ background and on their evaluation, and they make a report on the students’ level-background, and on the program.

2.7. Useful important information for parents of the students.

The centres for the Summer Camps have the suitable feature that all the facilities (the classrooms, guest house, restaurant and the garden) are enclosed in one secured place in such a way that the students cannot escape the facilities with enough security (a 24 hours doorman, an emergency medical team which could intervene at any time), which is needed as the students would be underage teenagers under the responsibility of the Summer Camp.

The parents of the students should deposit their children on the first day of the Summer Camp, with whom Dr. Sari Ghanem shall talk to briefly and they would need to do some paper work (provide contact information for emergency and sign some papers). The parents should come out on the last day of the Summer Camp, so that Dr. Ghanem meet with them lengthily, and with the mathematics teachers of their high schools, all the evening long to provide feedback and discuss plans for training tutorials along the year.

The middle-schoolers were asked to write feedback on their experiences at the end of the Math Summer Camps. Some of the evaluations the middle-schoolers wrote are:

You can say that this is the best possibility I had in the 14 years on being on this planet. Before I came to this camp I didn’t even know that there was this amount of math in the world. It didn’t just consist in mathematics. But we also made new friends, [I have] learnt organizing my life and communicating in English.”

“… we played along with studying math, which is nothing like our math in school, it was a whole new world, it was a little bit hard and we managed to get it in our minds but we had fun doing math ...”

“We didn’t only learn about math itself. But how math is a lifestyle and how one can improve himself by being committed and patient.

“… the teaching way, the teachers, the place, they were all perfect …”

“I think it is fun when you collaborate with each other and solve a complicated problem you’ll feel like it is an important step in your life.”

“I liked the first summer camp and that’s why I continued during the year with doing math worksheets and developing myself and staying in contact with Sari who is really helpful and patient with us and cares about us.

“… Matthieu, he was nice as a teacher and also as a friend …”

“We got to meet with Branko Juran who is really nice as a person and really good in teaching, we also learned about his two experiences in the IMO.

“[At] first I was thinking math is a theorem and you should use it but in this camp I ask myself [if] I should use it I should prove it. I hope there is another camp because in Palestine we don’t get much like these camps.”

“This camp was amazing, useful, full of information. We learned lots of things, I hope there will be another camp next year and in the future.”

As the director of the program, Dr. Sari Ghanem reserves himself the right to make any necessary changes to the program based on feedback and on unforeseen circumstances.

AKNIMO in Palestine