Children’s right to education at risk in the occupied Palestinian territory

Monday 20 November 2017

Save the Children in the occupied Palestinian territory, Country Director Jennifer Moorehead calls for greater protection of schools and children’s right to education.

Universal Children’s Day is a day to promote and celebrate the rights of children all over the world. In the occupied Palestinian territory however, children’s most fundamental right to education is being eroded. Today, representatives from the Al-Muntar school in Area C will be appearing at the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) to appeal the demolition order of the school that serves children from the Al-Muntar and neighbouring communities. In less than a month from now (on the 10th of December) another school in Area C, in Wadi Seek will also appear in the HCJ to appeal for the protection of its local school from being demolished. There are 55 schools across the West Bank of the occupied Palestinian territory facing demolition and stop work orders.

Last week I visited these schools along with representatives from the international community. We heard directly from community residents and humanitarian actors on the recent developments, the legal cases, and the challenges residents face on the ground. Distance, risky roads, the presence of settlers or of military checkpoints had presented unsurmountable challenges for many children to reach the nearest schools. Now, these two schools are fulfilling their essential function in bringing children back into the classroom.

All the Bedouin families living in these areas are highly vulnerable and in need of humanitarian assistance. Their communities are included in the United Nations 2017 and 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and the schools are identified as a priority, as they respond to a humanitarian need and ensures that vulnerable children can access their right to education, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a signatory, and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Two months ago I wrote an op-ed for World Humanitarian Day calling for the greater protection of school’s and children’s right to education; a month later the Humanitarian Coordinator, the Country Representative for UNICEF and I issued an urgent appeal for all parties to the conflict and duty bearers to protect children’s access to education in line with their obligations under international law.

The challenges in the education sector reflect the increasing protection risks we are seeing across the occupied Palestinian territory. Children, parents and teachers share with us their anxieties and fears in simply trying to reach school safely. School demolitions, threats of violence and harassment, military presence in and around school premises and lack of adequate resources are all undermining children’s basic right to education. These children are being denied a future in areas where unemployment has risen to among the highest in the world and restrictions on movement make it difficult to get to school or university or access vital healthcare.

Quite simply, children’s basic right to education is increasingly being eroded. Save the Children, along with other agencies and partners, calls upon world leaders to take action to protect children’s inalienable right to safe access to a quality education and to guarantee the special protection afforded to children in areas of conflict.

We call upon those with responsibility for upholding children’s rights in the oPt and world leaders to address the growing child protection risks in the education sector; to support and endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and the related Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use; and to take concrete and immediate steps towards the demilitarisation of school spaces.

For more information please contact:

Komal Adris
Policy & Advocacy Manager
Save the Children, oPt
+972 595 944 151
Alun McDonald
Regional Media Manager - Middle East and Eastern Europe
Save the Children, Regional Office 
+962 791 799 287