Education for All Week: Gaza’s students struggle to return to damaged schools
NEW YORK, USA, 29 April 2009 – While the world celebrates Global Action Week 2009 with a focus on education for all, the children of the Gaza Strip are still struggling to return to school in the aftermath of the conflict that ended there in January.
Over 150 schools were damaged in the fighting. Tents have been set up across Gaza for use as temporary classrooms. Some schools are running double shifts to accommodate students from districts without enough usable buildings.
Education aid held up
“No computers, no glass for the windows – there’s a shortage of textbooks,” explained UNICEF Gaza Education Officer Ibtisam Abu-Shammala. “The education is really, deeply affected.”
As of mid-April, UNICEF had distributed six small and eight large school tents to serve as temporary learning spaces for children whose classrooms were damaged. Education supplies provided so far also include:
“The first week [of the conflict], many students were traumatized because they witnessed the killing of their family members,” said Ms. Abu-Shammala. “In each school you can find a few students who were directly affected and may be traumatized – and the teachers, as well.”
UNICEF is supporting programmes to deal with these emotional and psychological effects. For example, noted Ms. Abu-Shammala, “UNICEF has provided trainers from the Ministry of Education in Jordan to come and train about 340 school counsellors in Gaza.”
Global Action Week marks the anniversary of the World Education Forum hosted in Dakar in April 2000. Its purpose is to provoke public debate about the state of education in the world, and renew the goals of the forum. Among these goals are expanding early childhood care and education; promoting the acquisition of life skills among adolescents and young people; enhancing educational quality; providing free, compulsory education; increasing adult literacy rates; and achieving gender equality by 2015.