‘An Ambiguous Future’: The Impact of Coronavirus on Education

By EA Helen.

Empty classrooms and quiet school halls. Like many places all over the world, children in the occupied West Bank have not been able to go to school for months due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. Those in the West Bank are now into a second wave of the virus and are under a second lockdown. Here EA Helen meets Omar, a social worker working with schools in the Bethlehem area. Omar shares his concerns about how the addition of Covid-19 will add to the hurdles young people in the West Bank face when accessing education, and how educators are trying to support them.

“In Palestine normal life is complicated, we don’t have the space to allow kids to discover their worth. Now Coronavirus is another obstacle to young people.” Omar, a social worker in Bethlehem

As children, parents and teachers around the world adapt to home-schooling and half-empty playgrounds, the worry of how external forces will impact their children’s education and opportunities is not a new experience for parents and teachers in the West Bank. Daily barriers can include military presence on school routes, military checkpoints and intimidation from settlers, Israeli citizens living in communities built on occupied land in the West Bank.

Tu’qu, Bethlehem. When going to school, many Palestinian children face the Israeli military. Photo: EAPPI

The Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) estimates that more than 8,000 children and 400 teachers in the West Bank need some form of accompaniment in order to safely get to school. This usually comes from nonviolent international monitors whose visibility can act to deter soldiers from more aggressive behaviour. For some schools in the West Bank, children are required to walk past Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers every day on their way to and from school making these monitors important in helping children to access education. Currently the lockdown situation has made the presence of international monitors in the West Bank more difficult.

International monitors from EAPPI accompanying Palestinian children to school was a common sight before the Covid-19 outbreak. Photo: EAPPI
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