Most Palestinians consider education as the first priority in their lives and see it as the only rescue boat. This is obvious in the increasing number of students that attend schools. According to the Palestinian ministry of education, one million three hundred thousand students fight all challenges and attend schools in Palestine.
Palestinian schools are more than schools, in one night they become a shelter for kids, mothers, families, and the whole neighborhood. Moreover, these shelters may never exist and maybe vanished easily. Only during the 2014 Israeli attacks on Gaza, airstrikes destroyed seven schools and damaged 252 and the number keeps rising since then.
Like any other country in the world, there are public and private schools that hold almost 50% of the students, and thanks to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that hold the other 50% of their schools. 94 percent of UNRWA schools operate on a double-shift basis, hosting one ‘school’ of students in the morning and a different group in the afternoon. Sadly, the American financial support cut is hurting education and destroying its aspects leaving thousands of students under extreme damage and darkness.
Private schools teach only 3.3% of the students, they are the luckiest, in fact, they are the wealthiest. Even they are much better equipped than public or UNRWA schools, private schools may still lack many necessary resources for students to grow. Still, the students have a limited future.
Public and UNRWA schools
Public and UNRWA schools are suffering from overcrowded classes. Due to financial shortages, lots of kids are stuffed in tiny old classes like a canned sardine, a class you defiantly won’t accept to apply your kids for, but the will of the Palestinians is way stronger and the wrecking walls are deriving its power from their enthusiasm and boldness.
The Israelis, throughout the blockade, banned importing basic school supplies including textbooks, pencils, lab equipment, computers, and papers. In Gaza, the estimation of children in need of continuous psychosocial support is over 160,000, which impacts education. Teachers try to use computers and recordings, but electrical outages mean that often they must teach orally.
Palestinian girls are really enthusiastic to pursue high degrees and their heads are always up in the clouds, but unfortunately, the story comes to an end just so soon just before achieving any of their dreams, hundreds of girls have to stop their studies because of financial crises.
Palestinian Student’s Daily Life
Panic has been an unwelcomed visitor for so long. All in a sudden, the Israeli checkpoints are all around the cities, and kids are not allowed to go to schools. So while you’re struggling to wake up early in the morning to get on the bus and arrive on time, hundreds of students have to wake up super early to go through round rough roads so they can reach their schools and work.
“We consider education as important as oxygen to be able to breathe; Even if we have to crawl to reach school and learn we will do it. Actually, we did it several times during the continuous attacks by the Israelis”. Roaa Ezzat said, a 15 years old student from the West Bank.
Talah Salem is a little girl from Rafah in Gaza and known at her school for being beautiful, polite, and with good marks. But her chance of leaving high school is high, just like her older two sisters who are as beautiful, polite, and smart as she is but they left school and got married. Her family can’t pay for universities so marriage is an escape from high living expenses.
Students in Gaza face many obstacles
The most important of these is the interruption of electricity, which forces many students to go to coffee shops to have access to a computer and to study. This of course entails extra daily costs.
“Usually I try to study when I first arrive home after school but when mom is busy doing other house stuff; I have to study at night mostly using the candlelight to be able to see.” Ahmad Azzam said who is a 9 years old student from Gaza.
Shaimaa Azzam, Ahmad’s mother, explained that they get electricity only a few hours a day and they try to do the most important things first like washing and ironing clothes then she starts helping her son to study.
“Ahmad’s geographic teacher tells his students about space, stars, and the moon so Ahmad’s eyes sparks when it comes to space and wants to travel there,” Shaimaa said. The boy’s mother also added that we have a weak system for teaching astronomy in Palestine, and the teacher is offering the kids over time to talk about it. Israelis don’t allow entering telescopes to Palestine and the number of good telescopes that can be found is really law, “my Ahmad is a really smart kid and he tries to learn a lot from his teacher, Although I can’t get him his requested telescope I hope to see him achieving his dream in the future and be able to travel to learn about whatever he wishes for outside.” Shaimaa added.
The bigger problem most graduates who admit to pursuing their studies outside can’t travel due to the blockade.