Students at UNRWA Remal Co-Ed School in Gaza back in schools after the half-term holiday, Monday 23 January, 2023. (UNRWA Photo)
On the occasion of the International Day of Education, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) paid tribute to the thousands of teachers and education staff who have shown commitment to teaching and learning at the Agency’s schools across the region.
In a press release, UNRWA said education can help young Palestine refugee children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, cope with their daily challenges while promoting values of tolerance, cultural identity, and gender equality. It can also help them develop their full potential and become confident, innovative, questioning, thoughtful, and open-minded members of society who are able to contribute positively to the development of their own society as well as the wider global community.
As the only UN agency in the world that runs a full fledge school system, UNRWA schools continue to be a safe haven and a sanctuary away from violence and deepening economic crises.
“School is like a second home,” said 10-year-old Jana, an UNRWA student in Arroub refugee camp in the southern West Bank. “It’s the only place where we can have fun, learn, and meet friends.” Jana’s eagerness to learn and her excitement at being around her peers may sound normal in the lives of children worldwide, but given the volatility of the situation in the West Bank, going to school becomes a source of stability in a Palestine refugee child’s week.
“Education is a human right,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Phillipe Lazzarini. “Every child must be able to learn and thrive. In the lives of Palestine refugees, the quality education that UNRWA has offered for generations was often a passport to empowerment, employment and fulfillment. Today, UNRWA is seeking to move its learning to the next level, to ensure that our students are equipped for the 21st century job market.”
UNRWA said an investment in education for Palestine refugees is the most cost-effective investment against child vulnerability and one of the best economic investments that can be made. In this context, the role of UNRWA is both unique and hugely important, as a pillar of social and political stability and the lifeline of one of the most vulnerable communities in the region.
International Day of Education is observed worldwide on 24 January every year to highlight the role of education in reducing vulnerability and improving the opportunities of children.
UNRWA provides education to more than half a million children in its five areas of operation in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.