Textbooks used in UNRWA Schools in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

06 October 2017

Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson Christopher Gunness

A recent report about the Palestinian Authority textbooks being used in UNRWA schools is inaccurate and misleading. 178 of the books cited are not being used in UNRWA schools; that’s almost 90 per cent of the evidence on which the conclusions of the report are based. These books are not being used in UNRWA schools for a number of reasons:

  1. They were phased out when the Palestinian Authority changed their curriculum and textbooks starting in 2016, though the books relating to the old Palestinian Authority curriculum were found to be free of incitement to terrorism by an independent US State Department review.
  2. They are for the higher grades 11-12; grades which are not taught in UNRWA schools in Gaza and the West Bank. 
  3. They were 'pilot' for the first year of the rollout of the new PA textbooks in the school year 2016-17. New 2017 versions are applicable for the school year 2017-18.

23 of the books reviewed in the report are being used in our schools and we have reviewed them rigorously under our curriculum framework, which aims to ensure that our curriculum is in line with UN values. In the small number of instances where issues of concern were found, we have created enriched complementary materials for use in our classrooms and we will be rolling out training on this to our teachers in the coming months. UNRWA’s condemnation of all forms of racism is a matter of public record.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)258 90724
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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