Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip returned to school today in child-friendly classrooms provided by Dubai Cares, resuming an academic year disrupted by a devastating 22-day war that destroyed much of Gaza’s schools and civilian infrastructure. Their return coincides with the arrival of a second Dubai Cares aid shipment into Gaza that includes more modular schools and hygiene and school kits.
The school facilities occupy approximately 800 square meters of land and comprise 11 classrooms, 2 bathrooms for boys and girls and an administration room and can accommodate up to 460 students. Assembled within a total of 72 hours, the schools were designed to Dubai Cares specifications for rapid response interventions. The Dubai-based charitable establishment’s two shipments to Gaza – the first arriving on 27 February – are each the equivalent of 14 truckloads.
Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Chairperson of the Dubai Cares Board of Directors, said: “From the onset of the war, Dubai Cares’ prime concern was – and remains – the safety and well being of Gaza’s children, innocent victims who found themselves in the centre of a quickly unfolding humanitarian disaster with far-reaching consequences. Today, Gaza’s children are resuming their educational development in the protective environment of classrooms, which will empower them to overcome the trauma they suffered during the war.”
The Dubai Cares temporary school is located in the Jabaliya refugee camp, where a number of schools – including ones established and operated by the United Nations – were destroyed. Since the ceasefire on 18 January, 2009, schools that escaped damage began accepting students from throughout the strip, adding pressure on an education system already dealing with difficult conditions prior to the war.
Her Excellency added: “Without a doubt, Gaza’s education system has sustained severe damage, aggravating an already difficult situation for the children of Gaza. Children are travelling longer distances and schools faced with teacher, supply and space shortages are now dealing with even greater odds to provide children with quality education. With these schools, Dubai Cares is providing an immediate solution for children and helping to alleviate the pressure on Gaza’s education system.”
In just 22 days, more than 1,300 people were killed and over 5,000 injured in the fighting in Gaza, one of the most densely populated places in the world. According to United Nations estimates, Palestinian children account for approximately one out of every three persons killed.
Considered to be the world’s largest NGO dedicated to primary education, Dubai Cares has prioritized its phase one grants to countries with the highest gap in primary education and has active partnerships with Save the Children, UNICEF, Medecins Sans Frontieres, OXFAM and Care International, and is committed to improving children’s access to primary education in developing nations. Its emergency interventions – which to date include interventions in Chad, Myanmar and Ethiopia - stem from its philosophy that guaranteeing the continuity of children’s education is as important as ensuring their physical well being.