What We Do

Our students are among the most highly educated in the region. Since the 1960s, girls have made up around half of UNRWA students.
Female Students
Educational Staff
US$ 802
Annual cost per elementary student

The right of children to an education is enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Recognizing that education is fundamental to helping each child achieve his or her full potential, UNRWA has worked for over 60 years to ensure that all Palestine refugee children have access to quality education.

One of our main aims, based on our commitment to Palestine refugees’ human development, is to help children and youth gain appropriate knowledge and skills by providing universal primary education. High-quality basic education provides young Palestine refugees with an understanding of their place in the world and a common set of key values, including dignity, tolerance, cultural identity, gender equality and human rights, and helps them develop the skills to thrive as adults in an evolving, challenging landscape.

UNRWA operates 677 elementary and preparatory schools in its five areas of operation, as well as eight secondary schools in Lebanon, providing free basic education for around half a million Palestine refugee children. In addition, vocational training and higher education is provided at eight Vocational Training Centers for 7,000 Palestine refugees in all fields and for 2,100 students in 2 educational science faculties and teacher training institutes (one in the West Bank and one in Jordan). UNRWA students’ literacy and levels of educational attainment are among the highest in the Middle East. Our programme has also been committed to maintaining gender parity, a benchmark we first achieved in the 1960s.

In 2011, the UNRWA education programme began a major four-year reform to help us meet the evolving demands of an education system in the twenty-first century. The reform will also lead to improved services for the Palestine refugee students in UNRWA schools, vocational training centres and educational faculties. This will be achieved through:

  • The provision of well-trained and motivated teachers within empowered schools
  • Equal access for all children regardless of gender, ability, health conditions and socioeconomic status
  • A relevant and accessible curriculum
  • A suitable school and classroom environment
  • Well-developed learning resources, including the use of new technology.

Schoolchildren in UNRWA schools follow the host authorities’ curricula and textbooks. UNRWA supplements these with its own materials on human rights. For more information about textbooks, visit: 

Palestinian Authority

Palestinian Curriculum Development Center (English and Arabic)
Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education (Arabic)


Jordan Ministry of Education (Arabic)
Jordan e-learning (Arabic)


Syrian Ministry of Education website (Arabic)
Curriculum (Arabic)


Lebanese Ministry of Education website (Arabic, French and English)

Education In Our Fields

In Gaza, 252 UNRWA schools serve over 240,400 students. These children grow up in bleak conditions, frequently surrounded by poverty and violence. School provides them with one place where they are able to learn the skills for a better future.
Years of underfunding have left the education system in Gaza overstretched, with 94 per cent of schools operating on a double-shift basis, hosting one 'school' of students in the morning and a different group in the afternoon. As a result, children’s education is severely truncated. In 2006 examinations, nearly 80 per cent...Read more

In the West Bank, UNRWA provides only preparatory education; secondary students matriculate into national schools. Nonetheless, we operate 97 educational facilities in the field, which reach over 50,000 students. The Agency also operates two vocational training centres, where over 1,000 students are trained in skilled trades and manufacturing.

The 2011/12 academic year saw a significant decrease in violence in and around UNRWA school premises. This was matched by an increase in achievement, with UNRWA West Bank schools outperforming Palestinian Authority (PA) schools in nationally...Read more

Young Palestine refugees, many of them students, have been especially vulnerable to the effects of the conflict in Syria. Because the majority of UNRWA schools are located within the Palestine refugee camps themselves – in areas that have suffered serious violence – one of the most pernicious of these effects has been a disruption in their education.

Before the outbreak of the conflict, all of the 118 UNRWA schools in Syria were running on double shifts to provide around 67,300 students with primary and secondary education, following the Syrian curriculum. Violence, damage,...Read more

Lebanon is the only field where we offer secondary education. In total, we serve 38,173 students at 68 schools throughout the country. UNRWA also operates one vocational training centres, which reach 1,143 students.

Our office has taken a special interest in inclusive education for students with disabilities. Around Saida, we are piloting the Special People Special Focus (SPSF) project, in coordination with other UNRWA departments as well as NGOs. The project includes awareness-raising campaigns for school staff, parents and community members; building teachers’ capacity to...Read more

In Jordan, UNRWA provides basic education to over 118,500 students at 174 UNRWA schools. Students in the fourth, eighth and tenth grades take national quality-control tests in the core subjects – Arabic, English, science and maths – and consistently achieve better results than students from private or government schools.

We are also excited to be able to provide university education in teaching, Arabic and English to about 1,200 students through the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Arts. We plan to add a fourth specialty, geography, in the 2013/14 academic year.

Based on...Read more

In More Detail

Knowledge and Skills
An inclusive, pupil-centred response to educational needs is our priority...
Human Rights Promotion
UNRWA began a project to promote human rights education in its schools in...
11-year-old Saja, from the area of Sha’af in the eastern side of Gaza City, thinks about the difficult times she had last year when school commenced after the 2014 conflict. She remembers trying to finish her homework by the dim lights during consistent electricity cuts. Since 2006, the Gaza Strip has been plagued by a chronic electricity crisis with rolling blackouts that last between 12 to 16 hours per day that heavily affect the most populated areas. © 2015 UNRWA Photo by Ahmad Awad
Education in emergencies Through its Education in Emergencies (EiE)...
University Scholarships
The UNRWA scholarship programme provides access to university education...
Vocational training
The UNRWA technical vocational education and training programme (TVET)...
Teacher Training
The UNRWA Institute of Education offers training and development for...
LftF Modules
Leading for the FuturE (LFTF) Leading for the Future is a leadership...
SPTD Modules
School Based Teacher Development programme (SBTD) School Based Teacher...
UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
Join the #DignityIsPriceless campaign to stand up #ForPalestineRefugees