Some 50,000 refugee students return to school

24 August 2017

Yesterday, some 50,000 Palestine refugee children returned to one of the 96 schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the West Bank to begin the 2017/18 scholastic year. 

The Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Scott Anderson, joined students at their first day of school in Biddo and Beit Surik villages, saying: “The provision of high quality education for Palestine refugee children is of utmost importance to UNRWA. The younger generation represents the future of Palestine and they deserve all our best efforts. Seeing the students’ smiles and the teachers welcoming them all back in a festive atmosphere was heartwarming and gives me hope for the future”.

Palestine refugee students in the West Bank continue to face threats and obstacles when attempting to realize their fundamental right to education. Armed violence, military checkpoints and settler harassment is for some students a worrisome daily feature on their way to school. Within this context of continued Israeli military occupation, UNRWA remains committed to doing everything it can to help refugee children access their right to quality education.

In the new scholastic year, UNRWA will make significant improvements to the learning environment in its schools in the West Bank. With a generous donation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), UNRWA will reconstruct the old, dilapidated boys’ schools in the Jenin and Tulkarem refugee camps, as well as equip all 96 schools across the West Bank with 20,000 new chairs, 10,000 new desks, 1000 new computers, fans and classroom curtains, and upgrade 72 science labs. 

The Agency will also continue to improve quality assurance of schools by strengthening monitoring activities, improving performance management, and improving the quality of the food provided at school canteens through new management arrangements.

Finally, the Agency will continue to strengthen its efforts to prevent violence, including corporal punishment, inside its schools by providing training for education staff. UNRWA is committed to making all installations violence-free.

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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