Education International together with its member organisation, the General Union of Palestinian Teachers, and the Ministry of Education of the Palestinian Authority organised training sessions for Palestinian teachers to equip them with the skills they need to provide vital emotional support to their students traumatised by ongoing war and mass displacement.
In the words of Saed Erziqat, General Secretary of GUPT, the ultimate objective of the programme is "to bring a smile to each child's face." During the trainings, GUPT and the ministerial representative expressed their gratitude to Education International and its member organisations for their "unwavering and historical solidarity, support, and advocacy for a lasting truce, peace talks, and humanitarian assistance, which include continued funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)."
The GUPT lamented the death of so many of their colleagues, and the devastating loses for the Palestinian education community as the education infrastructure has been decimated by constant bombings. The union also reported that at least 245 teachers in Gaza and the West Bank have been killed. In addition, thousands of students have lost their lives in Gaza since October 7 and 35 students were killed in the West Bank. Furthermore, 243 schools were completely destroyed in Gaza. Schools in the West Bank have been targets of attacks and vandalism, rendering them unusable. 99% of learning has shifted to online platforms for those who can access them.
Teachers working without pay
Organised in January 2024, the training sessions welcomed teachers from both the West Bank and Gaza. The session in Gaza included over 70 teachers from 5 schools identified with the help of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The training session for the West Bank was attended by over 50 teachers affiliated to GUPT from 10 schools in the West Bank identified by the Ministry of Education. Participants were trained in how to design lessons tailored to the age group and specific needs of the children they teach.
Teachers in both Gaza and the West Bank have not been paid for the last 5 months but continue to do their utmost for their students despite the horrific conditions. The high number of participants in the training sessions speaks to teachers’ commitment and the desperate need for emotional support they see in their students. Participating teachers will continue to stay in touch to share resources and best practices.
Call for Peace
Education International continues to advocate for an end to the war between Israel and Hamas, 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.