Gaza: Palestinians have traditionally fallen back on education as they have been inundated with obstacles since the Nakba (day of the catastrophe) in 1948 forced them from their homes into the diaspora.
However, of late, the Palestinian education system is undergoing major problems of overcrowding which is weakening it.
Approximately 53 per cent of the population under the age of 18 and nearly half a million children in Gaza attend schools that are overcrowded and dilapidated, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics. Not to mention a lack of resources to buy textbooks, paper and uniforms.
According to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Minister of Education, 650 schools must accommodate the nearly half million pupils in Gaza. As a result, schools are working double shifts to accommodate them.
"Overcrowding in classes is a huge problem. We desperately need to build 165 new schools just to manage. Some classes have 57 pupils," Ahmad Al Najjar, a ministry of education official told Gulf News.
On the other hand, frustrated teachers are desperate for solutions.
"I can't manage with all the pupils. There are too many and I cannot spend sufficient time with each of them," Mohammad Awad, an Arabic teacher in a government school said.
More than half of UNRWA's budget is spent on education, with over 20,000 teachers on the payroll. Not much resources is left to help build more schools, many of which were destroyed or severely damaged during the Israeli offensive in 2008.
"We don't have the resources to build new schools while maintaining the old ones," Adnan Abu Hassna, a UNRWA spokesman said.
Even if financing was available, building new schools would be a challenge as the illegal Israeli blockade has imposed restriction on the import of cement and other building materials into the enclave.
"About 40,000 refugee children in Gaza will not attend UNRWA schools this year as it cannot build more schools due to the Israeli blockade," Abu Hassna added.
The UAE has helped in maintaining some schools along with other international charities. Still with all the hardships that Palestinian children in Gaza face, parents are not giving up on educating their children.
"Even if I have to eat once every three days, I will do everything within my power to educate my children," Nehad Judeh, a father of ten told Gulf News.