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
Annual cost per elementary student

Recognizing that education is fundamental to helping each child achieve their full potential and a human right, UNRWA has worked for nearly 70 years to ensure that Palestine refugee children have access to quality education. 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, UNRWA aims to ensure that Palestine refugee students develop their full potential and become “confident, innovative, questioning, thoughtful, and open-minded, to uphold human values and tolerance, proud of their Palestinian identity and contributing positively to the development of society and the global community”.

UNRWA operates 710 elementary and preparatory schools in its five fields of operation, including eight secondary schools in Lebanon, providing free basic education for some 539,000 Palestine refugee children. In addition, technical vocational training and higher education is provided at eight Vocational Training Centres for approximately 8,000 Palestine refugees in all fields of operations and for  2,009 students in 2 educational science faculties (teacher training institutes, one in the West Bank and one in Jordan). 

School children in UNRWA schools follow the host authorities’ curricula and textbooks. UNRWA supplements these with its own materials on human rights. 


The UNESCO-UNRWA partnership has supported four generations of Palestine refugees to receive quality education even in times of crisis. The relationship between UNRWA and UNESCO began over 65 years ago when UNRWA was first established by the UN General Assembly. In 1950 UNRWA started out with 93 schools and around 35,000 students and since the 1960’s, girls have made up around half of UNRWA students. In 2014, the Director-General of UNESCO and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA renewed the commitment of the two Agencies to work together for quality education for Palestine refugees by signing a memorandum of understanding. The long-standing support to the UNRWA education program by UNESCO was exemplified in the education reform through the leadership of the UNESCO Director of Education. The reform sought to bring about transformational change in the teaching and learning practices in the classroom. The reform has led to an enhanced UNRWA education system where we see higher levels of student achievement, increased teacher motivation, and lower student dropout rates.

Read more:

demystifying the unrwa approach to curriculum

an investment in a quality education: promoting human rights and tolerance in the region

* school quality assurance (SQA) system

* unrwa research in progress: 2016 perceptional survey findings.

educational research briefs publication plan.

Education In Our Fields

The UNRWA Education programme in Gaza is the largest of all UNRWA programmes in the five fields, serving 286,645 students (104,251 males and 96,861 females) from Grades 1-9 in the 2019/2020 school year. Students study in the 278 UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip, of which 84 operate on a single shift basis, 177 on a double shift, and 13 schools on a triple shift, (delete) staffed by some 9,679 education personnel. In line with the trend in previous years, average class sizes in the 2018/2019 school year increased to 41.2 students compared to 39 students per

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In the West Bank UNRWA provides basic education, which covers grades 1- 9, and Grade 10 in two schools in East Jerusalem. In the 2019/2020 school year, UNRWA reached over 45,883 students in its 96 schools. Two vocational training centres provide training for over 1,073 students in skilled trades and manufacturing.

The West Bank has implemented the Agency-wide Education Reform Strategy, incorporating teacher professional development, curriculum, student assessment, inclusive education, technical and vocational education, research, and education data management. In the West Bank,...Read more

In the 2019/2020 school year, in Syria, UNRWA provided basic education from grades 1-9 to approximately 50,609 Palestine refugee students in 102 UNRWA schools located in Damascus, Rif Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Latakia and Dera’a.

Young Palestine refugees have been especially vulnerable to the effects of the conflict in Syria as the majority of UNRWA schools are located within the Palestine refugee camps themselves.  Schools have suffered from the conflict and many have been closed. The Government of Syria lent UNRWA 43 schools for their use between 2014 and 2019. UNRWA is,...Read more

UNRWA in Lebanon provides education services to 37,586 Palestine refugee students, in its 65 schools. Lebanon is the only Field where UNRWA offers secondary education.

UNRWA education in Lebanon has been implementing the Education Reform Strategy, which is designed to meet the needs of the 21st century to help students become innovative, critical and creative thinkers. A Teacher Policy was developed, which recognized the central role of teachers in quality education and sought to strengthen professional teacher and career progression. In Lebanon field, classroom...Read more

In the 2019/2020 school year, in Jordan, UNRWA provided basic education to over 121,000 students at 169 schools from grades 1-10, with almost 88 per cent of the schools continuing to operate on a double-shift basis. Unsuitable rented and residential buildings are slowly being replaced, decreasing the number of schools from 174 in 2014 to 169 today. Many of these residential buildings are without elevators or ramps and are, therefore, do not promote inclusivity and do not provide for the needs of people with disabilities in line with the Agency’s standards. Nevertheless, in parallel to...Read more