Source AP ©

Closed commercial crossings leave Gaza students without books

Gaza students start their new academic year without 30 percent of new textbooks because of the closure of commercial crossings.

John Ging, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said restrictions on importing raw materials into the territory have held up paper, ink, and binding materials.

Israel and Egypt closed their crossings with Gaza to all but humanitarian aid after the Islamic militant Hamas seized power in June. The closures have exacerbated poverty among the 1.4 million residents of the territory.

About 200,000 students attend UNRWA schools in Gaza, almost half of the student population in the overcrowded strip. the official WAFA news agency quoted an Education Ministry official as saying that 27 percent of government school textbooks have also not been printed yet.

Last year was the first for a fully Palestinian curriculum, replacing the Egyptian school lineup, and most of the textbooks were printed in Gaza.

"Food can come in easily. Anything other than food and medicine require a lot of extra coordination," Ging said.

Ging said his agency is struggling to keep education from collapsing in Gaza. A recent normative testing survey conducted in UNRWA schools showed failure rating in mathematics test ranging between 66 percent and 90 percent.

School has been disrupted often in the last 18 months because of Israeli military operations, including an attack on the power plant serving almost 50 percent of the population, and internal fighting that left hundreds of Palestinians dead.