Gazans Restart Learning in Tent Schools Amid 7-Month War

Gazans are finding ways to restart learning for 625,000 school-aged children affected by the 7-month war between Israel and Hamas. Volunteer teachers and online classes are being used to provide education despite the destruction of 12 higher education institutions and the killing of over 350 teachers and academics.

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Muthana Al-Najjar
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Gazans Restart Learning in Tent Schools Amid 7-Month War

Gazans Restart Learning in Tent Schools Amid 7-Month War

Amidst the devastation of a 7-month war between Israel and Hamas, Gazans are finding ways to restart learning for the 625,000 school-aged children affected by the conflict. With 12 higher education institutions destroyed or damaged and over 350 teachers and academics killed, Palestinians in Gaza have turned to tent schools and online classes to provide education despite the challenges.

Why this matters: The disruption ofeducation in Gaza has long-term implications for the region's economic and social development, as well as the potential to exacerbate existing political tensions. Moreover, the resilience of Gazans in the face of conflict highlights the importance of education as a fundamental human right and a key factor in promoting stability and peace.

Volunteer teachers like Asmaa al-Astal are working tirelessly to set up makeshift classrooms in tents. "We will be with them, we will bring them here, and we will teach them," al-Astal said, determined to ensure children do not lose an entire year of schooling as they cower from Israeli bombardment. Online instruction is also being used to reach students, although weak internet service complicates the effort.

For the tens of thousands of Palestinians who fled from Gaza to Egypt, accessing education remains a struggle. Some have enrolled in remote learning offered from the West Bank, where Palestinians have limited self-rule under Israeli military occupation. The Palestinian Embassy in Cairo plans to supervise end-of-year exams for 800 high school students.

The scale of the education crisis is staggering. Nearly 90,000 university students have been left stranded by the damage to Gaza's higher education institutions. Israa Azoum, a fourth-year medical student at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City, volunteers at Al-Aqsa Hospital to maintain her skills. "I never feel tired because this is what I love doing. I love medicine, I love working as a doctor, and I don't want to forget what I have learnt," Azoum said.

The challenges extend beyond the classroom. Almost half of Gaza's agricultural land has been destroyed, which experts say could take years to recover. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) recently announced the opening of a new humanitarian aid crossing into Gaza to increase aid routes, as the Gaza health ministry warns the health system is on the brink of collapse due to shortages of fuel, medicine, and manpower.

As the war rages on, Gazans remain determined to continue learning and teaching, viewing education as a lifeline amidst the chaos. The resilience of volunteer teachers, dedicated students, and communities working together offers a glimmer of hope in a grim reality. "We have lost friends, we have lost doctors, we have lost teaching assistants, we have lost professors, we have lost so many people in this war," Azoum reflected. Yet, even in the face of such devastating loss, the pursuit of knowledge persists in the battered classrooms and virtual spaces of Gaza.

Key Takeaways

  • 625,000 school-aged children in Gaza affected by 7-month war with Israel.
  • 12 higher education institutions destroyed or damaged, 350 teachers killed.
  • Tent schools and online classes provide education despite challenges.
  • 90,000 university students stranded due to damaged institutions.
  • Gazans determined to continue learning, viewing education as a lifeline.