Education is highly valued among families across the State of Palestine, with 95.4 per cent of children enrolled in basic education. But these impressive rates of enrolment mask the challenges of access to school, as adolescent boys and children with disabilities are vulnerable to dropping out of school. By age 15, nearly 25 per cent of boys and 7 per cent of girls have dropped out of school, while 22.5 per cent of boys and 30 per cent of girls aged 6-15 years with a disability have never enrolled in school1.
The future is an uncertain one for adolescents, as youth unemployment rates currently reach 40 per cent in the West Bank and 62 per cent in Gaza2. Accordingly, UNICEF is focused on facilitating the entry of young Palestinians into the job market through skills building, internships and career development support. Qualifications currently acquired by many young people do not match those of the job market, which in-turn affects their motivation to continue learning. Developing life-skills education is therefore critical to enhancing young people’s future integration in the job market3.
Early childhood development (ECD): Some 25 per cent of children aged 35 to 59 months attend organized early childhood education programmes. These programmes are crucial, as early childhood education lays the foundation for numerous aspects of a child’s future. Parents and caregivers need to be supported so that young Palestinian children benefit from quality early childhood education. Violence is also a major challenge for children of all ages, as violence is commonplace in the home and in schools. About 89 per cent of children are subjected to psychological aggression and 74 per cent to physical punishment in the family4. Violence in schools takes the form of psychological violence (e.g. verbal insults, non-physical bullying) as well as physical violence (e.g. corporal punishment, physical bullying) and sexual violence.
In addition, close to half a million children in Palestine also require humanitarian assistance to access quality education5. The protracted conflict and violent episodes of escalation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the closure of the Gaza Strip, and physical access restrictions, pose daily challenges and threats to the fulfillment of children’s rights. Violence against children in all its forms is of serious concern, as it compromises children’s learning and future potential. Children experience distress, fear and intimidation going to and coming from school in high-risk locations where they frequently have to pass through checkpoints or walk by settlements. Constant exposure to conflict, economic hardship, and increased poverty, all contribute towards the acceptance of violence as a social norm, which has adverse effects on children.
- UNICEF. State of Palestine: Out-of-school children. 2018.
- World Bank Group. The World Bank in West Bank and Gaza webpage. 2018.
- "Life skills" can be defined as “psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life”.
- UNICEF. Multiple Indicator Survey. 2014.
- OCHA. Humanitarian Needs Overview, Occupied Palestinian Territories. 2018.