Gaza Situation Report 205, 8 August – 21 August 2017
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) sees education as a major investment in dignity and human development and as a source of stability for Palestine refugees. The Education Programme in Gaza is UNRWA’s largest despite the fragile situation, lack of infrastructure and financial constraints. Providing quality, equitable and inclusive basic education is one of the Agency’s strategic outcomes, as identified in the current Medium-Term Strategy 2016-2021. In emergencies, education provides the physical, psychosocial and cognitive protection that sustains and saves children’s’ lives and is a major component of strategies for child protection. Through its education programme UNRWA contributes to achieving the UN Global Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the third goal, which calls for ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning.
On 23 August, over 271,216 students (131,534 girls and139,682 boys) started the 2017-2018 school year in 276 UNRWA schools across Gaza, which is an increase of 9,000 students as compared to last year. 8,745 teachers support the teaching of our students. The rising numbers of students attending UNRWA schools, together with an overall growth in need has increasing put pressure on the Agency’s programmes and services. Over the past year,to accommodate the students and provide them with an appropriate learning environment, UNRWA has invested in the infrastructure of its school buildings, including improved access to safe, drinking water and sanitation, continuous electricity supply, and, where necessary, rehabilitation of premises. In the first school week, the Agency distributed stationary packages, ensuring that all students are appropriately equipped for their classes. To mark the new school year, the Deputy Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. David De Bold, together with Chief of Gaza Field Office Education Programme, Mr. Farid Abu-Athra, met in Gaza Training Centre (GTC) area education officers and school principals across Gaza Strip. During the visit, both congratulated the staff on the new school year and briefed them about the increase in number of students, the newly-constructed schools, and staff recruitment.
For the second year, in cooperation with the Japan Gaza Innovation Challenge Initiative, UNRWA hosted the Gaza Entrepreneur Challenge 2017 from 12 to 14 August 2017. The main focus of this contest was on supporting entrepreneurial projects that contribute to enhancing the living conditions in Gaza. Eighty business applications designed by young Gazans were presented to the panel. The ideas presented spanned various fields, including health care, nutrition, water management, recycling, agriculture, education and manufacturing. Participating teams attended workshops on topics such as entrepreneurship, essential skills, and knowledge for success, and were given opportunities to connect with and learn from Japanese investors and social innovators. The challenge was supported by local entrepreneurial incubators in Gaza, including the UNRWA social enterprise spin-off Gateway. ECHOHOME won this year’s contest with their environmentally-friendly and innovative plan to produce renewable household energy through a composting process. The team will be awarded a financial prize of US$ 5,000, along with technical support to start their business and a training trip to Japan.
12 August marked International Youth Day. This year’s theme, “youth building peace”, was dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation, as well as inclusion, social justice and sustainable peace. This occasion was a unique opportunity to shed light on UNRWA’s ongoing commitment to empower Palestine refugee youth amid the hardships they encounter. To celebrate International Youth Day, the Gender Initiative hosted a debate between two youth teams on whether the existing work in Gaza is sufficient for youth involvement in promoting gender equality, with the debate marking the end of a training programme for youth on debating. The UNRWA Relief and Social Services Programme held a series of activities, including an awareness session for Palestine refugee youth on peace, non-violence, international law, and human rights. To give youth the lead in making a change in their communities and put what they learnt into practice, the participants implemented an open day for children in Sharm Park, an entertainment center in Gaza. The recreational activities held on 10 August included face painting, mural drawing and games. The success of the event speaks to the critical role of youth as agents of change in the society.
On 8 August 2017, UNRWA inaugurated the newly reconstructed Maán Health Centre in Khan Younis, South Gaza. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Deputy Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. David de Bold, UNRWA Senior External Relations and Projects Officer Mr. Munir Mannah, UNRWA senior staff, and representatives of the local community. The ceremony included speeches by Deputy Director Mr. David de Bold, Chief Field Health Programme Dr. Ghada Al Jadba, Chief Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Programme Engineer Rafiq Abed and UNRWA Senior External Relations and Projects Officer Mr. Munir Manneh. The health centre will provide comprehensive health services, such as out-patient services, maternal and child health services, services for patients with non-communicable diseases, and dental services, along with laboratory and dispensary services. The reconstruction of the Maán Health Centre will enhance and improve the provision of quality services provided to the more than 72,000 Palestine refugees living in Khan Younis.