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The protracted conflict and the occupation have compromised the access to education in the occupied Palestinian territory. In the West Bank, access to education is undermined due to the detention of children, military operations and settler-related incidents; the shortage of physical infrastructure due to building restrictions in Area C and East Jerusalem; and movement restrictions such as the checkpoints and the Barrier. In the Gaza Strip, armed conflict and the resulting damage and destruction of facilities, the Israeli Blockade, and the internal Palestinian divide, have severely disrupted services, including the ability to conduct regular educational activities. Combined with their negative psychosocial effects, these factors have affected student wellbeing, performance and completion rates.
Articles, statements and press releases
In the Gaza Strip, recurrent conflict and the ensuing damage and destruction of educational facilities have led to disruption in services and impacted the psychosocial well-being of children and teachers. Two years after the end of the most recent escalation in 2014, all 252 damaged schools have been repaired, but reconstruction of six of the seven totally destroyed schools is still incomplete. Nine years of blockade have compounded the impact of hostilities. Schools are overcrowded and their facilities are often used in double shifts, resulting in fewer instructional hours on core subjects and foundational learning, student difficulties in focusing on their studies and heightened levels of violence in schools. At least 20 new schools need to be built in Gaza each year to keep pace with population growth, but only 20 new schools have been built over the past eight years (all in 2013).
A statement delivered by David Carden, Head OCHA oPt, on the occasion of the opening of the school year in Khan al Ahmar, a Palestinian community at risk of forcible transfer.
Amid heightened violence in late 2015, the number of Palestinian children detained by the Israeli authorities spiked to the highest figure since March 2009: at the end of December, 428 Palestinian children were in the Israeli prison system. Some 80 per cent of these children were in pre-trial detention, the majority of them facing charges of throwing stones.
On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Robert Piper and a group of UN and NGO leaders visited Hebron this week to see first-hand the situation of human rights defenders in Hebron, as well as the obstacles to Palestinian children’s right to an education in a safe environment.
Following a decision adopted on 14 October 2015 by the Israeli Security Cabinet to address the wave of violence, Israeli forces began to block some of the main routes to and from Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. Within a week, a total of 41 obstacles had been deployed, comprising 23 cement blocks, one earth mound and 17 checkpoints.
During the 51-day war in Gaza, air strikes and ground incursions resulted in major damage to the education sector. Six government and private schools, eleven kindergartens and three higher education institutions were completely destroyed. Some 450 education facilities (176 government and private schools, 263 private kindergartens and 11 higher education institutions) sustained minor, partial, major or severe damage, resulting in a loss of access by children to quality education and safe learning environments. In addition, 83 UNRWA schools were damaged, all of which have been repaired.