Gaza: Making up for time lost

© UNESCO/A.Couturier
The Ramlha School for girls

“We had all lost one month of school because of the war, and I was supposed to sit my final exams in June. My family encouraged me to try to start exam preparations again. They said education is my future. I could not stop crying and shouting, but I have two sisters in university, and when I saw them go back, I decided to go back to school as well. I am so glad I did.” 

- Esra el Hello, a 17-year-old school girl from Gaza City.

In June 2009, Esra successfully completed her final end-of school national exams, the so-called Tawjehee exams, which determines entry to higher education institutions for all Palestinian students. Between the end of the official teaching in April and the actual exams held in June this year, Esra was one of 4,000 Gazan Tawjehee students who benefited from catch-up classes organised by UNESCO.

With additional classes held in six core subjects, the emergency catch-up programme helped compensate for study time lost during the 2009 Gaza conflict and offered practical exam preparations for the most affected Tawjehee students living in Gaza. The catch-up class programme has been just one of several activities within UNESCO’s multi-million dollar education response to the Gaza crisis, which also includes emergency support to higher education institutions; support to crisis planning and management for affected school principals and district officials; and promotion of schools as Safe Zones.

These projects, generously funded by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, are managed by UNESCO Ramallah through its newly established antenna office in Gaza.

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