Back to school? Obstacles to education in Palestine
Whilst the majority of children around the world are
preparing to go back to school next month, for the children of Gaza and the
West Bank it is still uncertain whether the school gates will be open. The occupied Palestinian territories are reliant on the United Nations Relief and Works agency to run the majority of their schooling for refugees, however,
with a lack of funding due to the aftermath of last year’s bombardment, some
700 schools will be delayed in opening.
This setback is a devastating blow for around half a million
children determined to begin their new school year. Obtaining an education in
Palestine has never been easy; in the West Bank, economic hardship and movement
restrictions (which include waiting at checkpoints for hours a day) make a
normal educational experience impossible for thousands of Palestinian children.
Schools and educational facilities are overstretched, with
94% of schools operating on a ‘double shift’ basis. This means that students
attend on a rota with barely any time for teachers to adequately prepare a
Last year’s assault on Gaza left 255 out of 420 schools and
nurseries there destroyed. Understandably, the beginning of the school year
marked a turning point in the lives of the Palestinian youth, as many of their
fellow classmates were never to return to the classroom. Painfully erased from
the classroom register, for these children the journey had ended, but for their
peers there was another chance to pursue their rights and freedom.
Education has always been highly regarded in Palestinian
society, so the recent funding crisis is likely to send many children and their
families into despair.
Interpal is currently working to address some of the
immediate needs of schools and needy families before the start of the school
year. Your donations can help in paying for classroom equipment and school
kits. We are also raising funds to help refugee families pay for their tuition
fees and school uniforms.
School life provides Palestinian children with stability and
a small chance of freedom in the uncontrollable circumstances they are living
in. At school, Palestinian children can play and laugh, leaving their burdens
at home. Armed with an education, young Palestinians have been able to find
work and find some form of escape from the misery of occupation. Many have pursued
university qualifications, whilst others have engaged in self study when
opportunities for higher education are not present. Education is truly
a part of Palestinian resilience and identity.
Palestinian children want to go back to school. – help us to
get them there.