UN Photo-Shareef Sarhan
UN Photo-Shareef Sarhan

Education International mobilises global education support for Palestinian educators

published 21 December 2023 updated 5 February 2024

The ongoing war between Israel and the Hamas has had a devastating impact on the Palestinian people, with thousands of deaths, the destruction of basic services and infrastructure, and the fear of widespread hunger, disease, and displacement. According to the World Health Organization, more than 20 thousand people have been killed, 70% of them women and children.

The education community has felt the effect of the war as teachers are suffering financially and emotionally, hundreds of thousands of children have had their access to education denied, and hundreds of educational institutions have been destroyed.

Education International has mobilised the solidarity of its member organisations to support Palestinian colleagues in their efforts to assist teachers and students in need in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Due to the indiscriminate bombardment, the people of Gaza are facing disastrous living conditions and lack basic life necessities: shelter, food, water, fuel, electricity, sanitation, health, and education. The General Union of Palestinian Teachers (GUPT), the General Union of Workers in Kindergartens and Private Schools (GUWKPS), and the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), have reported devastating losses and appalling living conditions for teachers, students, and their communities.

Education focused response

Since the early days of the conflict, EI member organisations in Palestine have mobilised to meet the most urgent needs of their members. The unions have now developed an action plan to provide further assistance to education workers in the Gaza Strip.

The "Teachers Empowerment Initiative" aims to support educators affected by the war in Gaza now by providing them with assistance, addressing both their financial and psychological needs. By investing in the well-being of teachers, the initiative aims to contribute to the rebuilding of the education sector and create a resilient community to help overcome the challenges posed by the war.

The financial aspect of the initiative includes providing direct financial assistance to teachers affected by the war in Gaza. The psychological support will include workshops and counselling sessions for teachers with mental health professionals, as well as the creation of a network for teachers to share their experiences and their coping strategies.

Education International will also lobby for the payment of teacher salaries which have been interrupted in Gaza. Wages have been withheld due to the interruption of the payment of tax revenues to the Occupied Palestinian Territory by Israeli authorities.

Several Education International’s member organisations from all regions have already responded positively to EI’s call to contribute to the EI Solidarity Fund to allow our Palestinian colleagues to implement this action plan.

While EI affiliates in Palestine are primarily operating in the West Bank, where their members actively engage in advocating for the rights and well-being of educators, GUPT and the Palestinian higher education union have forged connections with teachers in Gaza.

With the help of organisations in Palestine and close connections with the United Nations agencies which are still operational in Gaza, EI will secure ways to transfer funds and deliver assistance to those unionised educators in need which have been identified.

EI member organisations in Palestine stressed the crucial importance of international solidarity and expressed their gratitude to the contributors to the earmarked Solidarity Fund.

Call for Peace

EI immediately and unequivocally denounced the 7 October terrorist attack launched by Hamas against Israeli civilians. EI also called for an end to the Israeli bombardments and military actions which have caused the death of thousands of civilians.

More than two months within the devastating conflict, EI continues to advocate for an end to this terrible war, the release of all hostages, and an end to indiscriminate violence. EI also reiterates its call for an immediate United Nations enforced and guaranteed ceasefire, the establishment of humanitarian corridors to prevent further humanitarian catastrophe and loss of civilians and genuine efforts towards sustainable peace.