Sunday, 14 September 2014

Gaza children return to school after end of war with Israel

Children in Gaza made a delayed return to school on Sunday after the 50-day war with Israel that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and damaged hundreds of school buildings.

Gaza education ministry official Ziad Thabet said the opening was for 230,000 pupils attending public schools, 200,000 going to UN-run schools and tens of thousands enrolled in private institutions.

The opening had been delayed for two weeks because of damage to schools and the use of UN school buildings as temporary centres to house displaced people. About 50,000 people are still housed in UN schools, the UN Palestinian refugee agency said.

Early on Sunday Gaza City streets were crowded with children dressed in school uniform, many accompanied by parents or older siblings.

In al-Zaytoun boys elementary school, students pasted stickers with the names of fellow students killed during the war, as teachers struggled to cope with badly damaged facilities, including holes in ceilings and partially collapsed walls.

"I'm not as excited coming to school as I was in the past," said student Tamar Toutah, 11. "I feel that something is missing. I asked about my fellow students, but some were killed or wounded."

Thabet said that the first week in government schools would be given over to providing psychological counselling and recreational activities to help the war-weary children return to learning.

"We gave special training to more than 11,000 teachers and 3,000 principals and administrators about how to address students after the war," he said.

Thabet said 26 Gaza schools were destroyed during the war, and another 232 sustained damage. more


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