Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
UN and International Agencies Fear Gaza Educational
System Unprepared for New School Year
Statement and Fact Sheet
ccun.org, August 5, 2009
Call for immediate
opening of Gaza’s borders
The UN Humanitarian
Coordinator, representing UN aid agencies in the occupied Palestinian
territory (oPt), and the Association of International Development Agencies
(AIDA), represented by at least 25 NGOs, today demand full and unfettered
access into and out of Gaza in particular to restore the Gazan educational
During the 23 days of Israel’s operation “Cast Lead” in
Gaza, 18 schools were completely destroyed and at least 280 were damaged.
Today, one month before the start of the new school year, more than six
months after the ceasefires, none of these schools have been properly
rebuilt or rehabilitated due to lack of construction materials. Since the
imposition of the blockade, students have faced chronic shortages of
educational supplies including textbooks, paper and uniforms, though we
acknowledge the recent moves to allow textbooks, uniforms, and stationary
into Gaza. These are welcome first steps. However, the quantities,
kinds and predictability of goods being permitted into Gaza are still far
below what is required for normal life. Even prior to “Cast Lead” the
education system was already under severe duress due to the two year
blockade that has caused a crisis of “human dignity” in Gaza.
The right to learn and be educated is a fundamental child right that is
uniquely central to every child’s ability to realize his or her potential -
and by extension, that of their communities and countries. In the context of
protracted conflict and occupation, safe schools also offer an unparalleled
means of restoring a sense of normalcy and hope for children and their
families. Despite the extraordinary odds stacked against them, going to
school and becoming educated remains the single most cherished priority
among Palestinian children. The continuing blockade on Gaza jeopardizes this
fundamental child right, along with the remarkable progress in education
that has been achieved thus far.
“The blockade has caused untold
suffering to children in Gaza, who face another academic year in terrible
conditions”, said Philippe Lazzarini, acting Humanitarian Coordinator of
Together with the communities we serve, the United Nations and
non-governmental humanitarian organizations working in oPt collectively call
for immediate steps to end the blockade, as is required by international
humanitarian and human rights law. We call on the Government of Israel to
urgently facilitate entry of construction materials and supplies for schools
in the coming weeks, and to ensure that students, teachers and trainers can
freely exit and enter Gaza to continue learning.
Ensuring access to
education is an obligation of all governments, its primacy proclaimed by
agreements ranging from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child. Education is also the heart of all
development and the essential prerequisite for equality, dignity, and
lasting peace. The future belongs to this generation of children and
adolescents, and that future is inextricably rooted in the quality of
education that they receive today.
information, please contact:
Ms. Marixie Mercado, Chief Communications, UNICEF-occupied Palestinian
territory. Mobile: +972-0-54 778 7604, e-mail:
Mr. Chris Gunness, Spokesperson, UNRWA. Telephone: +972-2-5890267,
Ms. Allegra Pacheco, Head of Advocacy Unit, OCHA. Mobile: +-972-054
3311 806, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Jerry Farrell, Country Director, Save the Children Alliance,
mobile:+-972-0-54 313 4280, e- mail:
Mr. Osama Damo, Documentation and Communication Officer, Save the
Children Alliance, mobile: +972-0-598-705-883, e-mail:
THE GAZA BLOCKADE:
CHILDREN AND EDUCATION FACT SHEET
THE NUMBERS: More than half the population of Gaza – 780,578, or 53% – is
under the age of 18.
ACCESS TO EDUCATION:
There are 640 schools in Gaza – 383 government schools, 221 UNRWA schools
and 36 private schools, which together serve a total of 441,452 students.
The inability of university and post-graduate level students to travel
to pursue academic studies in specialized fields is stifling the
intellectual advancement of young adults in Gaza. Between July and September
2008, only 70 students managed to exit Gaza via Erez while hundreds more
remained trapped owing to a newly instated diplomatic escort requirement
mandated by Israeli authorities.
More than 1,000 Gazan students
apply to universities around the world each year but as there is no official
body or channel to coordinate their requests or exits, it is difficult to
know how many students want to study abroad this coming year.
OVERCROWDING: Around 88% of UNRWA schools and 82% of government
schools operate on a shift system to accommodate the high number of
students. Blockade restrictions have made it difficult to invest in building
new schools or repair damaged schools.
In north Gaza, 9,000 students
from 15 damaged schools were accommodated in 73 schools in the same area.
4,000 of them were squeezed in two schools. Some 1,200 secondary
students in governmental schools in north Gaza run the risk of not being
accommodated in the 2009/2010 school year.
DECLINING ACHIEVEMENT: In governmental schools, school attendance and
performance have declined as a result of ageing education infrastructure,
overcrowding, and frequent disruptions caused by military operations.
In the first semester of the 2007-2008 school year, only 20% of 16,000 sixth
graders in Gaza passed standardized exams in Math, Science, English and
IMPACT OF ISRAELI
Infrastructure: Operation Cast Lead had devastating
consequences for the education system already weakened as a result of the
blockade. During the military offensive, at least 280 schools and
kindergartens were damaged/ severely damaged, including 18 schools were
destroyed (8 government, 2 private and 8 Kindergartens). Six of the
destroyed government schools are in North Gaza alone, affecting almost 9,000
students who had to relocate to other schools.
Six university buildings were destroyed, and 16 were damaged.
Teachers and Students: According to the Ministry of Education and Higher
Education (MEHE), 164 students and 12 teachers from its schools were killed
during the Israeli military offensive; 98 of the students killed were from
north Gaza. A further 454 students and 5 teachers were injured. A
total of 86 children and 3 teachers who attend UNRWA schools were killed,
and a further 402 students and 14 teachers were injured. Schoolchildren,
thousands of whom lost family members and/or their homes, are still
suffering from trauma and anxiety and are in need of psycho-social support
and recreational play activities.
Displacement: At the peak
of the offensive, almost 51,000 individuals, among them approximately 28,560
children, had sought refuge in 44 UNRWA schools across Gaza,
causing considerable wear and tear on classrooms, sanitation facilities and
MATERIALS TO RECONSTRUCT: According to Ministry of
Education and Higher Education, it needs to build 105 new schools to cater
for yearly increase in student population. Construction materials
needed includes items such as 25,000 tons of iron bars, 40,000 tons of
BRAIN FOOD: Around one-fifth of school children are
iodine deficient. The prevalence of anaemia among
children 9 - 12 months old of age is 61.6%; and prevalence among pregnant
women is around 29%, and 22% of children 12 - 59
months old lack Vitamin A.
 Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, 2009.
Total population in Gaza is 1,486,816.
and Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE)
 Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement,
“Obstacle Course: Students Denied Exit from Gaza,” July 2009.
 Ministry of Education and Higher Education, 2009
 Save the Children UK, 2008 Child Rights Annual
UNICEF, UNRWA, MOEHE
 Nutrition Department / MoH / PNA, 2007
 Nutrition Department / MoH / PNA; Nutrition
Surveillance System Report, 2007
 MoH / PNA
and MARAM Project, 2004