Palestinian refugee children back in classrooms after school year is saved

Palestinian children back at school today in Susya on West Bank

Palestinian children returned to school today – just days after last-minute funding rescued the academic year for 500,000 refugees.

They were among 1.2 million Palestinian students who began the school year in public, private and United Nations-run classrooms across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The schools operated for refugees by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria were in danger of not reopening because of a $101 million funding shortfall.

But on August 19 UNRWA announced it had received almost $80 million in donations and the 2015-16 academic year would go ahead as planned.

The Palestinian education ministry said 700,000 students had started school in the West Bank and 500,000 in Gaza. This also includes 792,000 students attending public schools, 295,000 at UNRWA-run schools and about 113,000 students at private schools.

Boys ride a donkey to their school in Susya, south-east of Hebron

Waving goodbye on the first day back at school in the West Bank

Happy to be heading to their classes after the summer break

Boys and girls together on their way to school in Susya

Arriving at their school to start the new academic year

And the chance to catch up with their friends in the playground