RAMALLAH, August 24, 2015 (WAFA) – Around one million and two hundred thousand Palestinian students Monday began their school year in all public, private and UNRWA-run schools across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Speaking during a press conference to announce the beginning of the 2015/16 school year in Mahmoud al-Hamshari Primary Girls School in Tulkarem, Premier Rami Hamdallah expressed happiness that students studying at UNRWA-run schools returned to classrooms and pledged that his government would not spare any effort to enhance education and improve the conditions for Palestinian teachers.
Hamdallah also visited the Nablus village of Duma, the hometown of Palestinian toddler ‘Ali Dawabsheh who was burned alive in an arson attack committed by a group of Israeli settlers, and toured the local school.
“Not only is the international community requested to support the educational process in Palestine, but it is also requested to oblige Israel to halt its violations against Palestinian children, including violations to their right to free and secure education, and to stop detaining them. It is worth noting that Israel has detained about 200 children, denying them their natural right to education and protected upbringing,” stated Hamdallah during his visit.
The Premier pledged that the Palestinian leadership would maintain their diplomatic and legal efforts to hold accountable the Israeli settlers who committed the arson attack against al-Dawabsheh family and claimed the life of toddler Ali and his father Saad.
He called in this regard on the international community to take “serious and effective measures” to provide real international protection to the Palestinian people.
“It is the time now to implement and guarantee the Palestinian people’s right to freedom and security in their homeland and to safeguard their life and rights,” affirmed Hamdallah.
He asserted that the government would maintain efforts to support education, rehabilitate infrastructure and rebuild damaged schools in the Gaza Strip as well as to develop education infrastructure in East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. He envisaged this support as a primary component to reinforce Palestinians’ steadfastness against Israeli displacement and land confiscation.
According to statistics published by the Ministry of Education, a total of 1.2 million students have started the school year, including 700,000 students in the West Bank and 500,000 in Gaza. This also includes 792,000 students attending public schools, 295,000 attending UNRWA-run schools and about 113,000 students attending private schools.
This came as UNRWA announced it would supply stationary for a total of 250,800 students attending its 257 schools across Gaza at the beginning of the school year.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said this support is motivated by its commitment to helping Palestinian refugees realize their full potential in human development and ensure that Palestinian refugee children in Gaza would continue to receive schooling.
UNRWA declared that school year would start Monday August 24 in the West Bank, on September 1 in Jordan and September 13 in Syria following a looming financial crisis that threatened to disrupt the start of the school year for all Palestinian refugees.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl stated: “I have taken this decision first and foremost because of how central education is to the identity and dignity of Palestine refugees and of the 500,000 boys and girls whose future depends on learning and developing skills in our 685 schools.”
“It is on the benches and behind the desks of UNRWA classrooms that millions of Palestine refugees, deprived for so long of a just and lasting solution, have built the capabilities and shaped the determination that enabled them to become actors of their own destinies,” he added.