Irin, February 24, 2009 - School-children in the Gaza Strip face psychological trauma and lack facilities after schools were badly damaged or destroyed during Israel’s three-week assault on the enclave that began in December.
Primary and secondary schools in Gaza run by the government and the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) report a shortage of drinking water and textbooks for students, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Restrictions on the amount and type of materials being allowed into Gaza by Israeli authorities are hindering the education system.
Many parents and children say they were afraid to return to school after the war. The first attack hit Gaza on a morning while school was in session....
Lack of books
Asma Co-ed Elementary School “A&B”, run by UNRWA, is still waiting for this semester’s textbooks, according to area officer Mohamed Abu Hashem.
“We have been waiting three weeks for paper to print the books to enter Gaza; meanwhile, students are sharing textbooks,” said Abu Hashem. “The main problem is the psychological effects of the war on the children.”
After the war he organised stress-relieving activities for the children, including group therapy session and plays produced by local NGOs, such as the Children’s Theatre Organisation.
“The children are frightened by loud noises and panic when they see an airplane in the sky,” said Abu Hashem.
Some 161 of UNRWA’s 221 schools are running psycho-social support programmes, he said.
The school operates without electricity two to three days a week, and about 1,800 students attend the school in two shifts....