Archive for Schooling in Gaza

No windows, pens in Gaza’s classrooms

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Fatah, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, Hamas, International community, Israeli occupation, Operation Cast Lead, Pictures, Siege with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 10/09/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 10th September 2009

Source: The Electronic Intifada

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No windows, pens in Gaza’s classrooms
Report, The Electronic Intifada, 10 September 2009

Elementary school students in the Gaza Strip. (Erica Silverman/IRIN)

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) – Some 1,200 students at al-Karmel High School for boys in Gaza City returned to class on 25 August without history and English textbooks, or notebooks and pens — all unavailable on the local market.

Severe damage to the school, caused during the 23-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip which ended on 18 January, has yet to be repaired. Al-Karmel’s principal, Majed Yasin, has had to cover scores of broken windows with plastic sheeting.

“The entire west side of the school was damaged adjacent to Abbas police station which was targeted on 27 December,” said Yasin. “We have yet to repair the $65,000-worth of damage, since glass and other building materials are still unavailable.”

Educational institutions across Gaza are still reeling from the effects of the Israeli offensive, compounded by the more than two-year-long Israeli blockade (tightened after Hamas seized power in June 2007), according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

At least 280 schools out of 641 in Gaza were damaged and 18 destroyed during the military operation. None have been rebuilt or repaired to date due to continued restrictions on the entry of construction materials, OCHA reported.

At the start of the new school year, all 387 government-run primary and secondary schools serving 240,000 students — and 33 private sector schools serving 17,000 students — lack essential education materials, according to the education ministry in Gaza.

“The war had, and continues to have, a severely negative impact on the entire education system,” Yousef Ibrahim, deputy education minister in Gaza, said. “About 15,000 students from government schools have been transferred to other schools for second shifts, significantly shortening class time.”

He said the damaged schools lacked toilets and water and electricity networks; their classrooms were overcrowded, and they also suffered from shortages of basic items such as desks, doors, chairs and ink for printing.

UNRWA schools affected

More than 80 percent of government-run schools and those run by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) now have a second shift, according to Ibrahim.

The 221 primary and secondary schools run by UNRWA (in addition to government- and privately-run schools) are also struggling to accommodate 200,000 students this school year.

“We have only provided the minimum amount of stationery and textbooks to our students, since it is very difficult to bring in these materials and they are unavailable on the local market,” said UNRWA spokesperson Milina Shahin in Gaza.

UNRWA schools are also missing items such as lab equipment, calculators, desks, tables, chairs and even crayons, said Shahin.

UNRWA planned to build 100 new schools this year, but has had to give up the idea due to a lack of building materials. Thirty-five UNRWA schools are still without windows as a result of the offensive, due to a lack of glass, Shahin said.

Truckloads of stationery await clearance

Since the beginning of 2009, Israel has allowed 174 truckloads of educational materials to enter Gaza. Of these, only two were carrying stationery, in July and August, OCHA said.

According to the Palestine Trade Centre (PalTrade) and local suppliers, there are nearly 120 truckloads of stationery awaiting clearance to enter.

Ghazi Hamad, head of borders and crossings under the Hamas-led government in Gaza, said some educational materials, such as notebooks and clothing, had entered Gaza via underground tunnels from Egypt, but this was only a token amount.

Teaching has also been affected by the Fatah-Hamas rift: Of the 11,000 teachers in Gaza, 7,000 are employed by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah (occupied West Bank). Half of these did not return to teach this school year, according to deputy education minister Ibrahim.

“We had to replace them with less qualified teachers, while they chose to stay at home,” he said.

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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Gaza schools reopen amid problems

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, Israeli occupation, Operation Cast Lead, Pictures, Siege, Videos with tags , , , , , on 24/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 23 August 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English
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Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip have returned to school after their summer break, with a shortage of school supplies and overcrowded classrooms posing a threat to the quality of their education.

Nearly 300 schools and nursery schools were heavily damaged during Israel’s assault on the territory last winter and several were completely destroyed.

Because of Israel’s siege of the enclave, enough supplies of stationary and other school equipment is not available in Gaza and neither is necessary construction material to repair the damaged schools.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin said children in the Omar Khatab school were attending classes in shifts when he visited on Sunday, the first day of the school year.

“Just adjacent to this school is a school which was destroyed by Israel’s war. Many of the students there have come to this school. What that creates is a sense of overcrowdness,” he said.

“All of the glass at the school is still pretty much bombed out and that will pose a serious problem for the school come winter time if they don’t get in the supply of that material.

“Officials are concerned that the quality of education will decline because of supplies and construction materials.

Uniform exemption

Officials of Gaza’s Hamas government have decided to exempt students from having to wear school uniforms.

Umm Hisham, a Palestinian woman in Gaza, told Al Jazeera: “I have seven children. How can I afford this very expensive uniform?

Nearly 300 schools and nursery schools were destroyed in Israel’s war on Gaza [EPA]
“Besides, it is Ramadan now, and Eid is coming after, and there are many commitments for all these occasions.

“It is not only me, all people here in Gaza suffer.”

Despite the difficulties, Muhammad Askol, the education minister in the Hamas government, was optimistic.

“Facing obstacles and complications is not new for the Palestinian society in Gaza,” he told Al Jazeera.

“We have become used to handling the siege. Last year, we started the new academic year with only 60 per cent of the teachers, but this year we are starting with full capacity.

“I believe we now have the minimum level of capabilities that enable us to go on.”

According to a United Nations investigation, four schools that were being used as registered emergency shelters were bombed or fired at during Israel’s 21-day military operation.

Twelve teachers and 164 students were killed during the same period.

School could not start in Gaza if the borders are not opened

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, Israel, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Siege with tags , , , , , , , , , on 11/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 4th August 2009

Source: Canal Solidario (translated from Spanish to English by 3.071 Km).

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Acción Contra el Hambre (Action Against Hunger), United Nations and AIDA are asking the Israeli government to end the siege on the Gaza Strip to secure the next school year. It also warns schools need materials to be rebuilt.

Acción Contra el Hambre (Action Against Hunger), United Nations and more than 25 NGOs grouped under the International Association of Development Agencies (AIDA) demanded the opening of borders to Gaza for fear that the schools within the Strip are not prepared to start the next year. “The blockade has caused indescribable suffering to the children of Gaza, they face another school year in terrible conditions,” said the humanitarian coordinator of the Palestinian Territories, Philippe Lazzarini.

Also, United Nations and humanitarian organizations present in Palestinian territory make a collective appeal to put a immediate end to the blockade, as required by international humanitarian law and human rights. They also request the Government of Israel to immediately facilitate the entry of construction materials and supplies for schools in the coming weeks, and to ensure that both students and teachers can freely enter and leave Gaza.

Since the Israeli invasion in the Gaza Strip earlier this year, eighteen schools have been completely destroyed and at least 280 were severely damaged. A month from the start of a new school year and more than 6 months after the ceasefire, none of these schools have been rebuilt or rehabilitated, because they lack the necessary materials.  More importantly, according to Acción Contra el Hambre (Action Against Hunger), since the imposition of the blockade students have experienced shortages of school supplies.