Half million kids unable to start school year in Gaza

Half million kids unable to start school year in Gaza
Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:06:33

Half a million schoolchildren in the Gaza Strip will be unable to start the fall semester this week as the coastal enclave reels from the effects of an ongoing Israeli assault that has damaged at least 277 schools so far, a report says.

Although schools were scheduled to open on Sunday, nearly one-third are still being used shelters for some of the 485,000 Gazans displaced by Israeli bombardment, including 100,000 who have been left homeless, Ma’an News Agency reported on Sunday.

Palestinian Minister of Education Khawla al-Shakhshir said that although the new school year would begin on Sunday for 700,000 students in the West Bank, it has been "delayed until further notice" in Gaza.

The Deputy Minister of Education in Gaza Ziad Thabet said that re-opening schools in Gaza depends on "evacuating schools that are used as shelters, providing other places for displaced families and preparing schools to receive students."

Thabet said that 22 out of the 141 public schools damaged in the assault were severely damaged while other schools merely required clean-up.

He added that preparing schools to receive students would "technically need two weeks," but that the schedule was dependent on an end to the Israeli bombardment, which had killed more than 70 and injured hundreds in the previous four days alone.

He said that the ministry had coordinated with several local and international institutions to help repair and organize schools and provide the school year necessities, adding that the schools were also preparing to provide extensive psychological support programs for students.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated on Thursday that 373,000 children will need direct and specialized psychological counseling after the end of the assault, while all students would require some form of psychological assistance.

More than 3,000 children have been injured in the assault, and some 1,500 children have been orphaned. UNOCHA said that around 1,000 are expected to suffer from a life-long disability.


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