What We Do
What is Inclusive Education?
Inclusive education at UNRWA is about ensuring that all Palestine refugee children, regardless of their gender, abilities, disabilities, social-economic status, health and psychosocial needs, have equal opportunity to learn in UNRWA schools and be supported to develop their full potential in UNRWA schools. Inclusive education is about changing the way teachers teach, and how school principals, support staff and administrators work. It is also about changing attitudes.
Inclusive Education Policy
UNRWA developed an inclusive education policy and strategy to embed an inclusive approach, and reflect the Agency-wide commitment to inclusive education. The policy defines inclusive education as:
- A belief in each child’s potential.
- A right-based approach.
- A process of improving the education system, school and classroom practices.
- Meeting the needs of all children with emphasis on those vulnerable to marginalistion and exclusion.
- Reflecting the diverse needs of persons with disabilities.
- Recognizing individual needs and providing support.
- Developing inclusive communities.
Inclusive Education as a strategic approach
UNRWA Inclusive Education Policy and the Inclusive Education Strategy provide an Agency wide, unified framework and strategic approach which supports UNRWA schools in all its five fields in moving towards inclusive education. The Inclusive Education Strategy seeks to mainstream inclusive education into the existing structures and systems of the Education programme through three strategic dimensions: the first dimension focuses on inclusive approach for all children, the second focuses on additional support, and the third dimension focuses on developing support systems for extensive needs.
A strategic approach means recognizing and removing any barriers that can hinder students’ access, learning, development and participation. It is about asking questions such as: Is our school a safe and violence-free environment? Are all students feeling welcome in my classroom? Can I do something to improve my teaching methods to make learning easier?
The approach will further promote inclusive, child friendly, healthy, safe and stimulating school environments where practices in classrooms are more responsive to the diverse needs. Teachers are expected to carry out ongoing informal assessments, observation and information gathering to identify the learning, psychosocial and health needs of a student. It also means utilizing data which is generated from different systems for responsive plans that are applicable to different levels.
Psychosocial Support Framework
A conceptual framework for psychosocial support for UNRWA schools was developed to further establish a shared understanding of how the education system can support the psychosocial well-being of students. The framework emphasises how schools can provide child-friendly environments that foster psychosocial well-being and meet the psychosocial needs of Palestine refugee children.
The framework aims to guide counselors and educators to apply the inclusive approach to holistic, comprehensive, rights-based, child-centered, and enabling psychosocial support, within UNRWA’s education system which is aligned with the Agency’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Framework. It is intended to help counselors and educators foster inclusive learning environments by enabling them to better understand the psychosocial needs and the well-being of the children.
The UNRWA School Health Strategy (SHS)
Developed in close collaboration with the Health department and all Fields, the School Health Strategy (SHS) addresses four core areas to promote the healthy development of a student: comprehensive health services; a child-friendly, safe and healthy environment; health education; and healthy nutrition and canteens. The strategy offers guidance as to how to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to reduce health risks associated with poverty, high population density and poor living conditions and malnutrition.
Towards gender-sensitive classrooms: guide for teachers
The Teacher Guide for Gender Sensitive Classroom Practices will support teachers in how to recognize, and address practices and attitudes that may lead to bias and discrimination. All UNRWA teachers can use this guide as a support tool in their daily work.
Advocacy is needed at all levels to facilitate and strengthen awareness of the inclusive education
approach. Existing practices and regulations continue to be reviewed to ensure that they address and support students’ health and well-being.
Read more about inclusive education.
Socio-Emotional Well-being of Palestine refugee students in UNRWA schools in Gaza and Syria Fields
The UNRWA Education programme is designed to provide quality, equitable and inclusive education to Palestine refugee children in order to help them realize their full potential within a safe and secure environment. To this end, UNRWA measures progress on key indicators on an ongoing basis, which focus on the success of the system with regards to issues such as students’ retention, attainment and learning experiences, but not specifically on children’s socio-emotional well-being. Given the importance within UNRWA and beyond of children’s social and emotional learning, and with the support of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a study to explore children’s well-being was undertaken in 2017/18. The study was carried out with 1,437 Grade 4 and 9 students in Syria and Gaza, given the particular challenges faced by children living there.
The study sought to explore the perceptions of students with regards to three focus areas:
1) Child-friendly, safe and healthy learning environment: many aspects of this focus area are at the programmatic ‘output’ level and are largely under the management of UNRWA (e.g. provision of health and environmental education, safety at school, cleanliness, opportunities to play and the school canteen).
2) School relationships (school staff and peers): these are partly under the Agency’s management but are much more dependent on individual behaviours and other factors (e.g. friendships, teacher behavior, emotional support, corporal punishment, verbal and physical abuse and bullying).
3)Personal motivation and outlook on life: the programmatic ‘impact’ level—where UNRWA and its education programme are not the only influencing factors. Aspects examined in this focus area included emotions such as hope, happiness, loneliness, anger and worry. This focus area gave this study its uniqueness and value.
All participating students completed a questionnaire of ten questions with 60-61 items pertinent to these focus areas; a five-point scale measured the level of respondents’ agreement.
Overall, the responses of the 1,437 students indicated that UNRWA students have a positive sense of well-being, although there were notable differences by grade, gender and location, with more positive perceptions conveyed by Grade 4 students, female students, and students in Gaza. With respect to their school environment, most students report feeling safe and comfortable in school, with the exception of some safety and hygiene concerns related to bathrooms. Students generally get along with classmates but also reported a degree of bullying, especially among Grade 9 students, male students and students in Syria. Students generally say they feel respected by their teachers, although many reported feeling ignored by teachers or being afraid to ask questions in class. Some students also reported verbal abuse by education staff, but most said they had not experienced corporal punishment. Despite reporting anxiety and worrying about the ongoing situation in their respective countries, UNRWA students in Syria and Gaza are largely positive about their future and those of their communities.
Looking ahead, UNRWA will strive to address specific concerns raised by students through the questionnaires as well as consider how to best continue to monitor students’ socioemotional well-being and the many school-level factors that contribute to this vitally important issue.
For more details please see the briefs at the following link:
- Who We Are
- What We Do
- Where We Work
- Our Partners
- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- unrwa approach to curriculum