Enhancing quality of life and opportunities to learn
The Palestinian Society for Rehabilitation of Displaced in Gaza
The 2014 hostilities on the Gaza Strip have had a tremendous impact on the education sector. Many schools and educational facilities were damaged or totally destroyed, preventing some from resuming their academic year on schedule.
The Palestinian Society for Rehabilitation of Displaced is one of the learning facilities damaged during an air strike on the Beach Camp area. Classroom windows were shattered, and the space where 100 students spend over eight hours a day at was no longer safe. The two classrooms allocated for the vocational training section were severely damaged. The classrooms hosted at least 25 students a year to develop their skills in manufacturing candles, framing, embroidery and handcrafts.
- According to the Palestinian Ministry of Education, 24 schools were completely destroyed and 190 schools, including 70 UNRWA schools and 120 government schools, have been damaged during the 2014 hostilities. 12 higher education institutions were damaged, in addition to tens of kindergartens
- According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of statistics, 2.4% of the total population in the Gaza Strip suffers a form of disability. In addition, 10% of the injured during the 2014 hostilities are now disabled.
- In November 2014, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar (MOFA) signed a USD 40 million agreement from the Qatar Development Fund to support Education Above All’s Al Fakhoora programme.
- USD 21 million were entrusted to UNDP to respond to the current deficit of classrooms in Gaza, focusing on the reconstruction of educational facilities, while ensuring, in cooperation with UNICEF, that they are inclusive and child-friendly learning environments.
- The ‘Right to Education in the Gaza Strip’ programme, will allow over 600,000 Palestinian children and youth to regain equitable access to quality education by 2016.
- The programme will reinstate educational services within 38 schools out of which 13 are private. It will also include the rehabilitation and reconstruction of five damaged training centres as well as ten universities.
Nofouz Muqbel is 34 years old, a former student and currently a teacher at the centre. “I teach girls at the centre embroidery and handcrafts. In many cases, we used to come in the morning to discover that cats and rats have eaten or damaged the pieces we have worked on. This caused a lot of frustration and disappointment for my girls.”
Nofouz was one of first students who joined the centre in 1994, when she was only 14 years old and born with a disability that prevented her from walking. The centre embraced her like a family, she said. Nofouz received training on how to paint on glass, pottery, and embroidery.
“I had to leave school at the age of 12. At that time, schools in Gaza were not equipped with facilities that accommodate people with disabilities. Since then, I have built a relationship with the walls of these classrooms and I am very thankful that my students and I will finally get our home back, “ says Nofouz.
Since its establishment in 1993, the Palestinian Society for Rehabilitation of Displaced provided its education courses, vocational training and physiotherapy services to more than 15,000 children ageing between 6 -16 years old, and supported their reintegration into society.
With financial support from Al Fakhoora – Education Above ALL / Qatar, UNDP is implementing a USD 21 million programme to reconstruct and rehabilitate educational facilities damaged during the 2014 hostilities, and respond to the current deficit of classrooms in Gaza. Approximately, 194 classrooms will be reconstructed, contributing to the alleviation of overcrowding within schools and the reduction of double/triple shifts.
“The contribution has made a great difference to our centre,” says Nofouz. “We are finally able to close the windows and enjoy working in the classroom, especially after suffering through the cold and rain during last winter”.
After clearing up the damages and fixing the windows, UNDP is currently rehabilitating two damaged classrooms. Works are expected to end before the beginning of the school year in September. Once finalized, this will reduce the pressure on other classrooms, especially the vocational training one for students aged 14 -16 years old. “Last year, and directly after the war, we had to delay the school year for one week. But this year, we will open on time and our students will be returning to new walls, windows and fresh paint; all motivated and ready to learn,” Nofouz concluded.