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More learning space for refugee students: UNRWA opens new building at school in Rafah
On 29 February 2016, UNRWA opened the new Sa’d al-Abduallah al-Sabah building in the UNRWA Ibin Sina Elementary Boys School in Rafah, southern Gaza. This is one of the Agency’s many construction projects in Gaza. The opening ceremony was attended by the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Bo Schack; other senior UNRWA staff; and representatives from the UNRWA schools’ parents’ councils and leaders from the Rafah community.
The construction of the new building – made possible through generous support from the Kuwaiti Development Fund through the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) – has allowed the school to work on a single-shift basis since February 2016, serving one of the most crowded and poorest neighbourhoods in Rafah. Prior to this, and for the past 20 years, the old building of Ibin Sina operated on a double shift, accommodating two UNRWA schools: the Ibn Sina Elementary Boys School and Rafah Elementary C Boys School.
With the new building operational, Ibn Sina Elementary Boys School now provides education to 530 first-, second- and third-grade male students under the tutorage of 17 teachers in 14 classrooms, while Rafah Elementary C Boys School is serving 922 first-, second-, third- and fourth-grade male students under the tutorage of 27 teachers in 24 classrooms.
The new building includes a multipurpose room; a ‘Special Education, Special Needs’ room; rooms for health and school counsellors; a library; a computer lab; a school canteen; water tanks operating on solar energy; and an elevator providing access to the upper floors for students with disabilities.
“Today’s opening represents an important and more conducive learning environment for Palestine refugee children in Rafah,” said Mr. Schack. “I would like to recognize the contribution from the Kuwaiti Development Fund – through the generosity and commitment of such donors, UNRWA is better positioned to provide a strong education programme for Palestine refugee children in Gaza.”
Today, nearly 251,000 students attend 257 UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip.
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 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem 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.
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