Why are children in Gaza dropping out of school?

20 Nov

Mondoweiss, 20 November 2021

Gaza Strip: The Latest situation overview

  • 331 schools damaged
  • 2,173 homes destroyed or damaged beyond repair
  • 10 damaged hospitals; 23 damaged or destroyed medical clinics
  • 14 hours of electricity a day

This week we are taking you to Gaza where we will focus our attention on the confluence of an economy in “free fall,” damage to infrastructure from successive hostilities [from] Israel, and massive layouts during the pandemic. This has wrought new depths of economic devastation, but a report out this week from Al Mezan, a Gaza-based human rights group, has turned our attention to how all of this impacts children. We learned that these stressors are leaving children unable to focus at school and they are increasingly dropping out.

While Al Mezan didn’t give a dropout rate, they said a little more than 87% of children said the economic conditions they experienced at home are why they no longer attend class. 

“As perceived by the children, economic conditions had the most influence on their ability to stay in school,” Al Mezan said. “The educational environment ranked second, while the reasons related to the security situation ranked third.”

Researchers reviewed 668 children from across Gaza, including 55 children with disabilities, of whom 185 said they experienced violence first-hand from Israeli forces. Alarmingly, of this group, 153 had experienced more than one instance of first-hand violence. Another 10 said they experienced violence from “internal forces,” meaning local Palestinian authorities or factions. 

Most of these children said the incident occurred at their home. Seven said the violent encounter, including airstrikes and shootings, occurred at their school. A further 76 said their schools were the site of airstrikes and shootings at one point in time, and as a result, do not feel safe attending class. 

“At least one member in the families of 80 children was injured,” the survey said. 

Most children in Gaza live in homes that were damaged or destroyed during escalations with Israel, and most live in households that survive on around $80 or less a month, according to Al Mezan. 

Almost 70% of the pupils interviewed said neither one of their parents is employed. 

“Palestinian children, particularly in the Gaza Strip, fall victims to an array of grave violations perpetrated by Israeli forces and, to a lesser extent, Palestinian actors,” the group said. “Breaching the protection entitled to children under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, these violations are not limited to direct targeting leading to the children’s death or injury, but also extend to any harm inflicted on their guardians, homes, schools, and hospitals as it puts the enjoyment of their basic needs in jeopardy.”

[Abridged.Ed]

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