By Francesca Merlo
UNICEF released a statement on Friday entitled “State of Palestine: Country Report on Out-of-School Children” which discusses the number of children in Palestine who are abandoning their studies.
Why are children being pushed away from their education?
The report states that almost all children between the ages of 6 and 9 attend school, though when they reach the age of 15, the legal age to quit school, 25% of boys and 7% of girls do so.
UN agencies have underlined what they believe to be some of the factors that play a role in the decision children make in no longer attending school. These include a low quality education being offered and a curriculum which is often considered irrelevant to the children’s future and lives.
In addition, over two thirds of children are victims of physical and emotional violence in school, a violence coming from both staff and peers largely based on the armed conflicts raging on through the country.
Boys: a target of military scrutiny
There is a particularly high percentage of boys quitting school and one of the reasons for this, according to the UNICEF report, is that young adolescent boys are often the ones being stopped at check-points and road blocks. This makes journeys to school uncomfortable and at times impossible.
UNICEF’s suggested changes
The report underlines the necessity for children to be part of an institution that responds to their needs. They recommend a functioning support service, in particular for those who struggle to keep up with the curriculum. In order to obtain the right to education for every child in Palestine, the UNICEF report calls for a higher quality of teaching, especially in schools with low performance levels. They also say more access to tailored studies both in and out of school, including help with keeping up with the curriculum, is needed.
They ask for teachers to be trained in order to make schools more inclusive and to prevent violence amongst staff and pupils.
Finally, security and military personnel are asked to visit the schools unannounced as part of a solution to the violence being instigated by armed conflict.