What We Do

Our students are among the most highly educated in the region. Since the 1960s, girls have made up around half of UNRWA students.
Female Students
Educational Staff
Annual cost per elementary student

Recognizing that education is fundamental to helping each child achieve their full potential and a human right, UNRWA has worked for nearly 70 years to ensure that Palestine refugee children have access to quality education. Quality education helps young Palestine refugees understand the world in which they live and promotes values of tolerance, cultural identity, and gender equality. Through its education system, UNRWA aims to ensure that Palestine refugee students develop their full potential and become “confident, innovative, questioning, thoughtful, and open-minded, to uphold human values and tolerance, proud of their Palestinian identity and contributing positively to the development of society and the global community”.

UNRWA operates 711 elementary and preparatory schools in its five fields of operation, including eight secondary schools in Lebanon, providing free basic education for some 526,000 Palestine refugee children. In addition, technical vocational training and higher education is provided at eight Vocational Training Centres for approximately 7,700 Palestine refugees in all fields of operations and for about 1,600 students in 2 educational science faculties (teacher training institutes, one in the West Bank and one in Jordan). 

Schoolchildren in UNRWA schools follow the host authorities’ curricula and textbooks. UNRWA supplements these with its own materials on human rights. For more information about textbooks, visit: 


Palestinian Curriculum Development Center (English and Arabic)
Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education (Arabic)


Jordan Ministry of Education (Arabic)
Jordan e-learning (Arabic)


Syrian Ministry of Education website (Arabic)
Curriculum (Arabic)


Lebanese Ministry of Education website (Arabic, French and English)


UNESCO-UNRWA partnership

The UNESCO-UNRWA partnership has supported four generations of Palestine refugees to receive quality education even in times of crisis. The relationship between UNRWA and UNESCO began over 65 years ago when UNRWA was first established by the UN General Assembly. In 1950 UNRWA started out with 93 schools and around 35,000 students and since the 1960’s, girls have made up around half of UNRWA students. In 2014, the Director-General of UNESCO and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA renewed the commitment of the two Agencies to work together for quality education for Palestine refugees by signing a memorandum of understanding. The long-standing support to the UNRWA education program by UNESCO was xemplified in the education reform through the leadership of the UNESCO Director of Education. The reform sought to bring about transformational change in the teaching and learning practices in the classroom. The reform has led to an enhanced UNRWA education system where we see higher levels of student achievement, increased teacher motivation, and lower student dropout rates.

Education In Our Fields

Lebanon is the only field where we offer secondary education. In total, we serve 38,173 students at 68 schools throughout the country. UNRWA also operates one vocational training centres, which reach 1,143 students.

Our office has taken a special interest in inclusive education for students with disabilities. Around Saida, we are piloting the Special People Special Focus (SPSF) project, in coordination with other UNRWA departments as well as NGOs. The project includes awareness-raising campaigns for school staff, parents and community members; building teachers’ capacity to...Read more

Young Palestine refugees, many of them students, have been especially vulnerable to the effects of the conflict in Syria. Because the majority of UNRWA schools are located within the Palestine refugee camps themselves – in areas that have suffered serious violence – one of the most pernicious of these effects has been a disruption in their education.

Before the outbreak of the conflict, all of the 118 UNRWA schools in Syria were running on double shifts to provide around 67,300 students with primary and secondary education, following the Syrian curriculum. Violence, damage,...Read more

In Jordan, UNRWA provides basic education to over 118,500 students at 174 UNRWA schools. Students in the fourth, eighth and tenth grades take national quality-control tests in the core subjects – Arabic, English, science and maths – and consistently achieve better results than students from private or government schools.

We are also excited to be able to provide university education in teaching, Arabic and English to about 1,200 students through the Faculty of Educational Sciences and Arts. We plan to add a fourth specialty, geography, in the 2013/14 academic year.

Based on...Read more

In Gaza, 252 UNRWA schools serve over 240,400 students. These children grow up in bleak conditions, frequently surrounded by poverty and violence. School provides them with one place where they are able to learn the skills for a better future.
Years of underfunding have left the education system in Gaza overstretched, with 94 per cent of schools operating on a double-shift basis, hosting one 'school' of students in the morning and a different group in the afternoon. As a result, children’s education is severely truncated. In 2006 examinations, nearly 80 per cent...Read more

In the West Bank, UNRWA provides only preparatory education; secondary students matriculate into national schools. Nonetheless, we operate 97 educational facilities in the field, which reach over 50,000 students. The Agency also operates two vocational training centres, where over 1,000 students are trained in skilled trades and manufacturing.

The 2011/12 academic year saw a significant decrease in violence in and around UNRWA school premises. This was matched by an increase in achievement, with UNRWA West Bank schools outperforming Palestinian Authority (PA) schools in nationally...Read more