Sunday, February 8, 2009

Gaza War Deals Blow to Schools in Gaza

Miftah, February 4, 2009 - The jewel of Gaza's bare-bones education system — a U.S.-style school on lush grounds overlooking the Mediterranean — is now a mound of broken concrete. The territory's only laboratory for genetic testing, at a Gaza university, lies in ruins.

With 37 primary and secondary schools destroyed or damaged by air strikes, and 18 others still serving as refugee shelters, learning in Gaza has become even more of a struggle.

Israel says the attacks on schools struck militants and a weapons lab during its three-week war against Hamas. Gaza educators say Israel hasn't provided proof to back up its claims, adding the strikes on some of its best educational institutions set back efforts to develop the impoverished territory.

Even before the offensive, overcrowding had forced most of Gaza's 380 primary and secondary schools to run morning and afternoon shifts of no more than four hours each to accommodate 450,000 students.

The American International School of Gaza, near the northern town of Beit Lahiya, stood apart from the rest. Sitting on an 8-acre plot, it was an oasis in dusty and crowded Gaza, with its lawns, palm trees and roses....

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