The Academic Year 2014/2015 in Gaza resumed this Sunday (15/9/2014) for more than half a million school students after the Israeli mass aggression that lasted for 51 days.
A recent report by the United Nations Children's Emergency Funds (UNICEF), showed that during the war on Gaza, more than 500 children were killed and 3,300 were injured. Consequently, thousands of students now suffer from severe traumas and psychological distress.
257 schools and kindergartens were damaged, including 26 that cannot be used or fixed, impacting the education of 9100 students. Moreover, 63,000 displaced families find shelter in 29 UNRWA schools.
This academic year carries more significant challenges with it, starting with the damaged schools and departments, the martyrdom and injury or hundreds of students and teachers, and the discord between ministries in Gaza and Ramallah after announcing the coalition authority past June.
The Ministry of Higher Education made comprehensive preparations for the new year by training 11,000 teachers, 184 educational supervisors, 405 educational counselors, 397 school principals and 397 school health coordinators trained to use modern techniques in intervention and psychological counseling, that were also transmitted for teachers to use with students. The ministry decided on starting the academic year in three phases: the first phase will focus on the students’ psychological and social issues, and performing individual and group activities that will help them let their feelings out. The second phase includes providing the equipment needed for studying through specialized administrations, and the last phase includes academic education and learning.
The first week of school will be dedicated to art and sport classes as a psychological respite, so as to start school after this week in a way that will not exhaust the students. Some subjects that do not affect the core of the curriculum will be removed.
Considering the damage that hit school institutions, students will be moved to other schools and 90% of the schools will have two shifts. As D. Ziad Thabet, undersecretary assistant to the Minister of Education, stated that the academic year was supposed to have started on the 23rd of August, but could not because of the war on Gaza, which let it begin only in the schools of the West Bank.
Adnan Abu Hasna, media adviser of UNRWA, said that the educational process was launched in all schools of Gaza, except for the schools of Beit Hanoun -north of Gaza- where people sheltering there refuse to merge in only 3 schools as suggested by the UNRWA.
Abu Hasna also said that the families’ refusal of merging in specific schools lead to UNRWA calling off the academic year in Beit Hanoun, or having 9600 students and their teachers go to different schools. He added that the UNRWA will still work on resuming the educational process during the next days.
It is noteworthy that there are 10 UNRWA schools in 8 buildings spread in several areas of Beit Hanoun.