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West Bank: Attending school in times of conflict is a challenge

Emergency Inclusion
Occupied Palestinian Territories

Samar, 10, lives in a camp in the West Bank. She has multiple disabilities. Attending school is already a challenge, now exacerbated by the escalation of violence.

Samar in front of her home.

Samar in front of her home. | © HI

Since October 7 and the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas, some 33,000 Palestinians have been killed and 75,000 injured in the incessant bombing of Gaza by Israeli forces. This deadly offensive comes in the wake of a massive attack launched on Israel by Hamas, in which 1,200 Israelis lost their lives and 240 Israelis and foreign nationals were taken hostage.

Armed violence has also escalated in the West Bank, with more than 350 Palestinians killed and 4,300 injured. A dozen Israelis have also been killed.

Samar lives with her parents, brothers and sisters in the Nur Shams Refugee Camp in Tulkarm Governorate in the northwestern West Bank. She has multiple disabilities. Her story illustrates how the escalating violence affects children in her situation.

Coping at school

Samar has a developmental delay: her thinking and everyday skills are those of a 6- to 7-year-old. She also has seizures and has to take medicine that makes her drowsy. At school, she struggles with reading and writing. Since October 7 and the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas, it has been even harder for her to keep up with her lessons.

The shock of armed violence

Since October, repeated incursions into the camp by the Israeli armed forces have regularly disrupted classes. These interruptions in her learning make it even more difficult for her to cope.

Like the other children, Samar is shocked and scared by these military operations. Going to school can be a frightening experience and many children like Samar live in constant stress, fearing more incursions.

HI has organized recreational activities at Nur Shams Girls School to distract Samar and her classmates from the escalating violence and help relieve their anxiety.

Difficulties accessing education

Recently, Samar's family has had to move to a different part of the camp because of violence in her old neighborhood. She now lives a long way from her school and has trouble getting there.

More and more classes are being organized online for security reasons, but Samar’s family doesn't have a computer or smartphone for online learning. She feels isolated from her classmates.

When the school does manage to open, Samar's classroom is very overcrowded. With so many students, her teachers struggle to give her the extra support and attention she needs and to adjust her classwork and tests to her abilities. This has led to poor grades.

Samar needs more help with her learning and someone to monitor her progress. But in the current unstable situation, this is just not possible.

Samar has dreams

Despite the odd mornings when she feels down and prefers to stay at home, Samar enjoys going to school and doing her lessons. Her dream is to become a fashion designer or the owner of a clothing factory. She loves drawing designs for clothes.

Ceasefire now

HI continues to be alarmed by the very high number of civilian victims, the lack of safe humanitarian access and the limited number of aid trucks allowed to enter the Gaza Strip each day. Along with more than 800 organizations, HI is calling for an immediate ceasefire to put an end to the carnage and ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to the population in need.

HI and Inclusive Education in Palestine

HI’s program in Palestine promotes the inclusion of children with disabilities in schools. Our teams target communities to identify girls and boys with disabilities who are out of school or at risk of dropping out. Based on the children’s individual needs, they refer them to specialized service providers in the sectors of health, protection, shelter, and livelihoods to support their inclusion. The program also equips targeted schools with learning and teaching materials and provides hearing, visual, and educational technologies for boys and girls with disabilities. HI's goal is to enable 3,000 children with disabilities to access education.

Since October 7, because of the escalation of violence and restrictions on movements in the West Bank, HI has adjusted its activities, remotely assessing school accessibility and conducting training and providing support to education online. HI has also organized recreational activities for 600 children in six affected schools.

Date published: 04/17/24


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