Displaced teachers establish 'tent school' for students in Rafah

Learners are seen in a classroom at a tent school in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on April 30, 2024. [Xinhua]

Now being displaced to the southernmost Gazan city of Rafah, Nihad Badreia, a Palestinian teacher, established a ‘tent school’ for about 600 school-age children living in a refugee camp, as the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict has deprived students of their studies for nearly seven months.

"It's too hard for our students to continue education due to the war. They also cannot meet their classmates, which would have affected their psychological states negatively," said Badreia.

Currently living in a refugee camp with more than 2,000 children, Badreia often saw teenagers playing in the streets without having any positive activities that would develop their characters.

What's worse, they were sometimes involved in quarrels or even violence, partly due to the psychological pressure caused by the long-time exposure to the war, he added.

As the sign of an end to the war is yet to loom, children "will absolutely suffer from the consequences" of the prolonged crisis, the teacher said.

This was why he decided, together with about 20 other displaced teachers in the refugee camp, to establish a school themselves with tents being its classrooms.

Maths, Arabic, Science, and the Holy Quran are among the curriculums delivered. After launching a fundraising campaign and with the help of the Palestinian Ministry of Education, they returned the students to school.

A teacher chats with learners in a tented classroom in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on April 30, 2024. [Xinhua]

"Despite the lack of equipment, I am so happy to return to classrooms," Neama Abu Hajjaj, a Palestinian student in the seventh grade at the school, told Xinhua.

"It is amazing to have new teachers, but I do not know if my former teacher is still alive or not," Abu Hajjaj said, expressing her hope to return to her house, neighborhood, school, and normal life as soon as possible. Until then, she said, "I will enjoy my current educational life."

The same happiness is experienced by Shahd al-Amasi, another student from the Gaza Strip. "I am so glad to return to school and write in my notebooks once again. I missed my lessons, friends, and teachers."

Both Abu Hajjaj and al-Amasi were among the 300 female students who went to the school three days a week, while the rest 300 male students went to the school for the other three days, according to Badreiah.

Learners take part in outdoor activities at a tent school in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on April 30, 2024. [Xinhua]

"Despite that for now they will not get any certifications, the students will be learning until there's a solution to the education problem in Gaza," he said.

Israel launched a large-scale offensive against Hamas in Gaza to retaliate against a Hamas rampage through the southern Israeli border on Oct. 7, 2023, during which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.

The ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza have resulted in extensive casualties and damages, with the Palestinian death toll rising to over 34,000, according to the Gaza health authorities, which noted that out of the total deaths, there were 3,700 students and 200 teachers.

Meanwhile, the Gaza education authorities said at least 352 local schools were damaged by the Israeli attacks, while the rest of them were turned into shelters for the displaced people.