A magical profession: Being an UNRWA teacher in Gaza
It’s 10 a.m. at UNRWA Preparatory A Girls School in Nuseirat, central Gaza, and dozens of girls in blue-and-white-striped school uniforms play happily in the schoolyard, following the instructions of sports teachers. The girls’ blithesome shrieks mix with the calmer voices of the teachers and students sitting in the classrooms above. In one of these classrooms, 55-year-old Suheir al-Khaldi is teaching Arabic to sixth graders.
Suheir started her career as an Arabic teacher more than 20 years ago in the same UNRWA school where she had studied as a child. “My best memories are of the UNRWA teachers who, with the humble means available at the time, always encouraged and motivated us as refugees, and particularly girls, to continue our education,” she says. “When I recall these moments and realize how the schools and the teaching styles have changed over time, I am amazed. UNRWA schools are the path to success for Palestine refugees, and I feel very proud that I have studied and now work at an UNRWA school.”
“Only when I started working as a teacher did I realize the magic of this profession,” Suheir continues. “It is all about changing the lives of these little girls, inspiring them, and leaving an impact – like an actress who needs to leave an impact on her audience.”
School is not only about teaching, says Suheir, but also about caring and giving the children a chance to speak and express themselves freely, “to share their sadness, frustration, interests and stories.” “My teachers were always there for me when I needed them,” she explains. “This is something I want to be for my students as well.”
Suheir is just one of 22,000 exceptional UNRWA education staff who the Agency celebrated this World Teachers’ Day. She forms part of an education programme that teaches half a million students, and is possible only thanks to the generous support of donors, the largest of which is the Government of the United States.
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