Navigating Curricula Choices for Palestine Refugees

Jo Kelcey

Forced Migration Review, Issue 60, March 2019


There are longstanding disputes over the curricula taught to Palestine refugee who learn in schools run by the UN. Disagreements focus on the teaching of the geography and history of Palestine in UNRWA schools and in government and private schools that enroll Palestinian children, with accusations from Israel and prominent Western donors that refugees learn hatred and violence in their schools. The article describes a UNESCO review of textbooks used in UNRWA schools that recommended the editing or discontinuation of some textbooks. The Syrian, Jordanian and Egyptian governments rejected criticism of their textbooks, while the Israeli government disagreed with the findings of the review, arguing that it was too lenient, and banning textbooks it deemed inappropriate. The result was shortages of teaching materials in schools in Gaza, the West Bank, as well as in schools in Syria and Jordan. In 2018, the US withdrew funding for UNRWA. While other donors have stepped in, the dispute continues to jeopardize the education of Palestine refugees.