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120,000 Palestine refugee students return to UNRWA schools


The Jordan Times


AMMAN — On Sunday, 120,000 Palestine refugee students started the new scholastic year at the 169 schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) across Jordan, according to a UNRWA report e-mailed to The Jordan Times.
“During the last week, UNRWA opened its schools in Gaza and the West Bank and [on Sunday] it opened schools in Jordan while the coming few days will see UNRWA opening its schools also in Syria and Lebanon,” UNRWA acting field public information officer Amjad Obaid told The Jordan Times on Sunday. 
More than 2.3 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA live in Jordan, 120,000 of whom are boys and girls who attend the agency’s schools from first grade to tenth, at which point they move onto government schools or one of the agency’s technical and vocational institutes. 
“The fact that children go back to school every year may seem like a very normal thing to many,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl was quoted as saying in a press release published by the agency. 
“But for Palestine refugee children, this is possibly the most important day of the year and a sign that dignity is preserved in their lives.”
In the report, Krähenbühl stressed how such education has the potential to solve the difficulties Palestine refugees face. 
“Prioritising education not only contributes to human development in this region, but also to its stability pending a just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestine refugees,” Krähenbühl was quoted as saying.
As the number of registered refugees grows in conjunction with their greater vulnerability and increasing poverty, and as funding has been withdrawn by some donors due to concerns over an internal ethics report, the agency has been confronted with an increased demand for services and a programme budget shortfall of $150 million as of August 25.
“Students from UNRWA schools said [on Sunday] that their schools are like their second homes and they spoke passionately about their concerns over UNRWA’s future and the news circulated during the summer holiday if their schools will open on time or not due to financial challenges,” Obaid said.
Despite the shortfall, large-scale maintenance work was undertaken for schools in all UNRWA fields as a result of funding from Saudi Arabia, according to Obaid. 
“Students were also excited following the extensive maintenance to their schools and some actions taken by the agency to ensure protection such as fixing doors and windows, moving latrines inside the schools, and other improvements to the schools' buildings to enhance the learning environment,” Obaid added. 

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