Reports & Researches

The lame start of the academic year in UNRWA schools in Lebanon How can it be corrected?

The lame start of the academic year in UNRWA schools in Lebanon

How can it be corrected?

(Human rights report)


The lame start of the academic year in UNRWA schools in Lebanon

How can it be corrected?

(Human rights report)

After a closure period that began in March 2019 due to the Corona pandemic, the UNRWA Education Department in Lebanon decided to open the new academic year in early September 2020 with a quick online review for four weeks of curricula and materials that were not completed during the last academic year. Then schools will open their doors to receive students from mid-October 2020 through the implementation of what was agreed upon to be called "blended education" by dividing the school's students into two parts, where part of the students will be in the classroom, with achieving the principle of social distancing, while the other part continues studying online.

The online curriculum review experience has been marred by many flaws and defects, as follows: -

1. The lack of electronic devices for many students that enables them to keep up with what is sent or explained by teachers online.

2. The irregularity of electricity and the weakness of the internet networks in Lebanon in general, and especially in the Palestinian camps, was a factor affecting the failure of this experiment.

3. The difficult economic situation of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and the inability of many families to pay the electricity, internet, and generators' subscription bills has prevented their children from following up on lessons explained or sent.

4. The presence of more than one student in the same family and the lack of sufficient electronic devices to enable them to accompany their teachers while explaining lessons.

5. The educational capabilities of many parents are weak to follow up and clarify what lessons are explained from a distance.

6. Not sending enough brochures to all students in schools, which forced many families to photograph it on their own expense in light of the high cost of photography in recent times

As a human rights organization that closely monitors the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, we ask the following question: Has UNRWA benefited from the mistakes during its previous experience?

The preliminary indicators available so far clearly indicate that UNRWA continues its work in the same manner by adopting a policy of improvisation, trial and error through the following: -

1. Failure to provide schools with books and deficiencies in the necessary supplies.

2. Failure to secure sterilizers and cleaning materials to apply the necessary preventive procedures.

3. Not providing additional staff and cleaning workers to supervise the cleanliness of the toilets and the rest of the public facilities in the schools.

4. The division of students in classrooms unevenly, especially in large schools, with the intention of getting rid of the daily-workers and more than 25 students may be placed in one classroom, which eliminates the principle of prevention and social distancing.

5. Continuing to implement part of the online learning process without providing the necessary supplies for it, such as I PADS devices or tablets for students or illustrated and sufficient paper notebooks for all students, it will be useless.

Faced with this lame start of the academic year, we in the Palestinian Association for Human Rights (witness) call on UNRWA to: -

1. Establishing an electronic platform through which all lessons and videos that are explained by teachers are uploaded, enabling students to return to it to review missed lessons, with the aim of overcoming electricity and internet problems.

2. The necessity to provide schools and students with missing books, pictorials, and photographic supplies, or replace it with electronic devices (PADS) or tablets.

3. The necessity to provide schools with adequate quantities of sterilizers, detergents and medical masks in order to preserve the health of teachers and students alike.

4. The necessity to apply the principle of social distancing in classrooms and in school playgrounds.

5. Hiring adequate cleaning workers to supervise the cleaning and sterilization of school facilities.

6. The need to strictly enforce the procedures for requiring all students and teachers to wear masks, and to abide by the directives of UNRWA, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization.

Beirut, 16/10/2020

Palestinian Association for Human Rights (witness)