GAZA – 29 October 2015. Belgium and UNESCO, as respectively Co-Chair and Technical Advisor of the Education Sector Working Group, organized a field visit to the “Ein El-Helwa Co-ed Basic School” of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) and to UNRWA`s “Jabalia Elem Co-Ed ‘B’ School” (afternoon shift) which shares the same building with UNRWA’s “Jabalia Prep Girls “C” School” in the Gaza Strip. This initiative was conducted in collaboration with the MoEHE, UNWRA and UNICEF, and included also the participation of the Joint Financing Partners supporting Education in Palestine and of the United Nations Deputy Special Coordinator/ Resident Coordinator/Human Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mr Robert Piper.
A range of active national and international agencies (including United Nations, donors and civil society) working on education in Gaza participated in the event and nearly 40 participants were guided on this visit by UNESCO and UNWRA and by representatives of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
The visit was organised as a parallel to the field visits that took place in the West Bank, in conjunction with the recent Annual Sector Review (ASR) of the education sector, in order to include the voices of teachers and students from Gaza in the national debate on education. At same time the event also offered the opportunity to share some of the achievements at school level of the Education for All Package.
The participants were warmly welcomed by students, teachers and principals in both schools seeing some of the results in early childhood development and inclusive and child friendly education that are central to the EFA Package. Students thus gave voice to successes, challenges and urgent needs that MoEHE and UNRWA schools face in providing the education to Palestinian children in the Gaza strip.
The visitors interacted with students from grade 0 to grade 9, all of whom highlighted how much they enjoy and benefit from the various child-led activities, as well as the human rights education curricula in the UNRWA school – the latter being not part of the EFA Package but exclusively an UNRWA initiative.
Layla Ali, principal of the Ein el-Helwa Co-ed Basic School, emphasized how teachers are “continuing to provide quality education to the children” despite the daily challenges of living in Gaza and the difficulties that schools face. Su’ad Al Tlouli, an UNRWA school principal said that “we are still able to maintain high academic achievements. Over the years I have seen dramatic change and progress in education and the number of new initiatives and programmes have been very supportive to UNRWA employees.”
The members of the Student’s Parliament of Jabalia Prep Girls “C” School and Jabalia Elem. Co-ed “B” School participated in a discussion with the visitors raising many students’ issues and needs such as the school feeding, more stationery, electricity and crowded classes. The students also thanked the donors for building the new schools.
Through the EFA Package, educational personnel have been trained on inclusive and child-friendly education practices in the framework of the OFID programme on inclusive education funded by the Opec Fund for International Development (OFID). A recurring observation from all of these key educational people thus trained was their hope for this programme, linked to the EFA Package, can continue and further expand within their schools and across Gaza.
Inclusion of all children becomes even more challenging and critical in times of emergency, where innovative teaching and learning are fundamental to address the increased diversity of children’s needs (e.g. protection, psychosocial needs, special needs, learning difficulties).
More information on UNRWA’s activities in Palestine is available at the following website: www.unrwa.org
 The ‘Education for All’ (EFA) Package for Palestine on Inclusive and Child-Friendly Education and Early Childhood Development was developed in 2012 by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE), in partnership with nine UN agencies; UNRWA, FAO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNSCO, WFP and WHO, coordinated by UNESCO.