Palestine refugee students start the 2016/17 school year in the West Bank

31 August 2016
© 2016 UNRWA Photo by Riham Jafari

On 28 August, around 50,000 Palestine refugee students began their school year in 96 schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Scott Anderson, joined the students at UNRWA schools in Sureef and Halhoul on their first day to celebrate the beginning of the new school year in the West Bank. “The first day of school is a time for optimism and hope for the future. I remain greatly impressed by the work of our education staff and the potential for the future that our students demonstrate as they strive to uphold human rights values and contribute positively to society,” said Mr Anderson.

During the 2016/17 school year, the UNRWA education programme in the West Bank will implement a number of educational initiatives aimed at developing teachers’ capacities and enhancing the performance and skills of students. The Agency also seeks to integrate technological developments into the process of learning and teaching.

This year will also witness the launch of the Education Management Information System (EMIS), which will be used by every UNRWA school to capture a wide range of specific information about individual students and teachers in a timely manner to better support analysis of UNRWA educational processes at all levels, supporting an evidence-based policymaking approach.

In line with the guidelines of the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education, UNRWA students in grades 1 to 4 will be taught the new Palestinian curriculum. To ensure a smooth transition to the new curriculum, UNRWA teachers will be trained on the educational means necessary for delivering the components of the new curriculum to students.    

The UNRWA education programme will also continue implementing its reform strategy of School-Based Teacher Development (SBTD), which seeks to improve teaching and learning practices in classrooms by developing interactive pedagogies of teaching that will engage children more effectively in their learning.

UNRWA also stresses the values of human rights through its Human Rights, Conflict, Resolution and Tolerance (HRCRT) programme, which was initiated in 2000 to promote strong communication skills, peaceful conflict resolution, human rights, tolerance and good citizenship concepts. School parliaments are a central component of HRCRT, which facilitates the practical application of human rights principles and provides opportunities for students to participate in decision-making and effect change within their schools and communities.

The psychosocial well-being and mental health of Palestine refugee children in the West Bank remains one of the top priorities for UNRWA. It extends learning processes beyond the borders of the classroom by facilitating a broad array of extracurricular activities aimed at improving the students’ well-being, including collective and individual counselling, fun stress-relieving activities, and, where necessary, internal or external referrals.

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 5.4 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.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724