Al Mezan’s latest factsheet ‘Access to Education in the Gaza Strip’, released today examines how Gazan children’s access to education is routinely violated due to the ongoing military activities and occupation of the Gaza Strip.
This factsheet is the second in a series of factsheets on armed conflict related violations of children’s rights occurring in the Gaza Strip, which is part of a Save the Children UK funded project entitled ‘Child Rights at the Centre: Enhancing National Capacities to Monitor, Document, and Report on Child Rights Issues in the oPt’.
Regular Israeli military attacks, incursions and the continued siege of Gaza result in direct and indirect attacks on schools resulting in the death and injury of students and teachers, damage to school property and surroundings and missed days of schooling.
Attacks by Palestinian resistance armed groups and the lack of precautions to evade education facilities potential armed attacks also impact access to education in the Strip.
During the 22 days of Operation Cast Lead, 250 students and 15 teachers were killed and 856 students and 19 teachers were injured during Operation Cast Lead.
280 schools sustained damage, of which 18 were completely destroyed.
Since the end of Cast Lead until the time of writing, there have been 31 documented incidents against schools and other educational facilities (including UNRWA summer camps and youth and education NGOs) which constituted attacks on schools or denial of humanitarian access to education.
As well as these violent armed attacks, Gaza’s education system has also declined in quality because of the ongoing Israeli-imposed siege.
This siege has seen the prevention of all building materials into the Gaza Strip, and until recently, equipment necessary for the classroom such as paper and glue.
Because of the siege, classrooms are severely overcrowded and sometimes unsafe due to damage because new schools cannot be built and damaged schools (including those which have sustained damaged from military attack) cannot be repaired.
Schools have also been forced to operate on double shifts; effectively being able to teach twice the number of students in one day, but making the school day significantly shorter.
94 percent of UNRWA schools and 78 percent of government schools now operate a double shift system.
According to OCHA, in order to accommodate all students now and for the next five years, 130 new Government schools and 100 new UNRWA schools will have to be built.
However without building materials these schools will never be built and with continued military attacks children’s ability to access education in the Gaza Strip will only worsen.
The executive summary can be accessed here.
The full factsheet can be accessed here (pdf).