Education is a fundamental human right that serves as a foundation for all other human rights because of its interconnected and unalienable nature . It is also a significant tool where the people who are economically and socially marginalized can contribute to the sustainable development of their communities. The number of schools in Gaza has increased to 764. The total number of school buildings is 542, the total number of sections is 16343, the total number of pupils is 591599, and the total number of employees is 26,242. Among schools, there are 422 government schools, 278 UNRWA schools, and 64 private schools
Despite the importance of the educational sector in Gaza, it is regarded fragile and weak, as the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip has caused considerable harm to the educational system in terms of demolishing and damaging educational institutions, causing educational services to be disrupted. The educational sector is also impacted by the suffocating blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for more than 14 years, due to the electricity crisis, which poses a serious challenge to students and is the result of years of Israel’s fluctuating ban on the entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip, that has devastating effects on student performance and school services, as power outages for long periods of time make it difficult for students at all levels to review their lessons and do their homework in both education systems, whether distance education or face-to-face education.
Schools face significant congestion, which constitutes an obstacle to school efficiency and the general enjoyment of related human rights, and the double shift system has been employed to alleviate high density in all classes. For the 2020-2021 school year, the average student per class in UNRWA schools was 41.20, while in government schools was 39.56, and 21.65 in private schools, causing teachers to pay insufficient attention to individual differences and struggling students.
In the light of the spread of the Covid-19 virus that led to a complete closure, the educational system became more complicated, as all schools were closed and distance education became the norm. Nevertheless, the ongoing power outages and poor internet service have made this educational system as a burden for pupils, as these challenges have slowed down the educational system, and the unanticipated turn to distance learning created a massive digital gap between the Gaza Strip and the rest of the world due to Israel’s control over the entry of technologies and devices needed to upgrade Gaza’s Internet capabilities. This also has affected the capacity of many Gaza Strip families to keep up with technological advancements in education and take a step towards electronic approaches. Furthermore, many families are unable to afford some smart devices.
During the recent aggression, all schools in the Gaza Strip were closed, forcing the Ministry of Education and UNRWA to end the school year earlier than planned due to the challenges that followed the aggression, which included frequent power outages, poor internet, and damage to school infrastructure, and this obstructing access to schools. It also resulted in material losses as a result of the deliberate targeting of educational institutions or neighboring buildings, as 186 schools (136 government/public schools, 13 private schools, and 37 UNRWA schools) were damaged, and 63 UNRWA schools that served as shelters for the displaced suffered minor damage, in addition to the human losses that affected students, as 69 students were killed and 654 were wounded.
All of the challenges that face education have contributed to the emergence of the school dropout issue, which is caused by a lack of safety in educational institutions, as 220 students, including 21 with disabilities, 87 females, and 133 males, do not feel safe. The reasons for not feeling safe varied, with 153 citing the educational institution’s distance from their residence, 17 citing its proximity to the separation fence, 75 citing its proximity to dangerous sites, and 76 citing the educational institution’s targeting by Israeli occupation forces during repeated aggressions. The emergence of this phenomena has been heavily influenced by economic conditions, educational environments, and security situations. Economic conditions resulted in 583 dropouts, educational conditions resulted in 455, security conditions resulted in 133, and social circumstances resulted in 112 dropouts.