For the first time, UNRWA, with funds from Islamic Relief Canada, has launched a project that provides special educational and psychological support to injured refugee students at UNRWA schools, and if necessary at their homes, across the Gaza Strip. The ‘supporting students in Gaza after the summer 2014 hostilities’ project, worth approximately US$1 million, started in November 2014 and will run for fourteen months. Six workshops on inclusive education are currently being held all across Gaza with a total of 77 subject teachers, 54 special education needs teachers as well as 6 project coordinators attending.
“Providing support to injured and disabled students at UNRWA schools to receive education is a persistent necessity that will help them reintegrate in school and society. Through the project we are able to look after the students not only in schools, but also at their homes and in hospitals,” commented Mr Shaher Yaghi, a quality assurance coordinator at UNRWA’s Education Department, during a training session with 25 subject and rehabilitation teachers at the Jabalia Preparatory Girls School "A" in northern Gaza. “In addition, the project does not focus only on education, but also on providing psychological consultations as well as health care and assistive devices such as wheel chairs or glasses to families who cannot afford these for their children,” he added.
An estimated 853 UNRWA students were injured during the summer hostilities of 2014.While some of them are coping with temporary injuries, others will live the rest of their lives with permanent disabilities. The UNRWA project also includes home education by teachers to a few students whose injuries are hindering them from attending school at all.
After the completion of the workshops the participants will go back to their UNRWA schools and pass their knowledge to their colleagues in peer to peer training sessions.
“Training on inclusive education is very essential for us as special needs teachers; it facilitates our mission on dealing with injured students. Back at school, we will be leading the other teachers to implement what we have learned here during this training,” remarked Ms. Maisa Qudas, who participated in the training in Jabalia. Her co-attendee, Mr. Shadi Abu Hajaj, agrees, “Addressing the needs of these particular students is crucial, but also very difficult. This training prepares us for this challenge and enhances our skills.”
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 100 million.
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