UNRWA and SDG 4: Quality Education


Since it began operations in 1950, UNRWA has educated over 2.5 million refugee children under a programme recognised as a significant educational force in the Middle East. Quality education helps young Palestine refugees understand the world in which they live and promotes values of tolerance, cultural identity and gender equality. Through its education system, the Agency aims to ensure that Palestine refugee students develop their full potential and become confident, innovative, questioning, thoughtful and open-minded individuals who uphold human rights, are proud of their Palestinian identity and contribute positively to the development of society and the global community. 

The Agency operates 706 elementary and preparatory schools, including nine secondary schools in Lebanon, providing free basic education to almost 543,075 Palestine refugee children. Students in UNRWA schools follow the host authorities’ curricula and textbooks which the Agency complements with its own materials on human rights. UNRWA is committed to improving the quality and inclusiveness of its education programme, through the further professionalization of teachers and the enrichment of curriculum in order to strengthen pupils’ competences and life skills. The Agency is also committed to ensuring equal opportunities and outcomes for boys and girls and to strengthening its disability programming so that the needs of children with special needs are adequately identified and responded to. In addition, through its Education in Emergencies (EiE) programme, UNRWA helps to ensure that Palestine refugee children can continue to access quality education and learning opportunities, even in times of crisis and conflict. The Agency's EiE programme has become renowned in the region and beyond: the host countries in which UNRWA works, as well as other UN agencies, continue to replicate its approaches and use the specific resources developed to further learning goals. In response to the onset of COVID-19, EiE programming was activated and adapted to focus on the provision of: (i) remote and self-learning through the deployment of both interactive computer and print-based material), facilitating student learning during school closures; (ii) psychosocial support to cope with the impact of the pandemic; (iii) safety and security, focusing on enhanced student awareness on the transmission and prevention of COVID-19; (iv) continued technical vocational education training through the development of self-learning materials and provision of psychosocial support; and (v) monitoring and evaluation of adjusted service delivery models.