For many years people living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) have been deeply affected by conflict. When Israel declared independence in 1948 the former British mandate of Palestine was partitioned and its people were largely displaced. Since then the political situation has remained unstable and life is often disrupted by clashes and curfews.
Education has always been highly prized by man Palestinians and even in challenging circumstances literacy rates are high and enrolment in primary education is almost universal. However, the long-running conflict has adversely affected education and many institutions have been closed or their buildings damaged or destroyed.
Why we work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
As a result of this instability as well as restrictions and poor economic performance, many educational institutions in OPT experience a chronic lack of resources. Delivering and distributing books across OPT is often challenging due to the restrictions on movement for local organisations. There is an urgent need for safe spaces where children and young people can study, play and learn. The books we send are highly prized because they are carefully selected for the needs of the institutions we support and therefore offer a chance for individuals to progress in their education.
Our work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
We have been supporting libraries through book provision in OPT since 1988. We currently work with the British Council and with local NGO Tamer Institute for Community Education, which seeks to provide reading and writing opportunities for Palestinians in safe spaces.
The British Council plays a key role in ensuring that our books reach the communities that need them. The British Council supports various educational organisations in the territories, as well as running their own education programmes. They distribute books from Book Aid International to 20 schools and 10 colleges of further and higher education, as well as community libraries such as Gaza Municipality Library, the only library in the area and which serves nearly half a million inhabitants.
The Tamer Institute for Community Education has operated in the West Bank and Gaza since 1989, promoting child development through literacy, education, and creative writing programmes. They distribute books from Book Aid International to a network of 84 community libraries, as well as schools and refugee camps. They tell us that “Book Aid International donated books help to connect local authors, illustrators and young readers with the wider literature world in the UK and elsewhere.”
*UN Human Development Index 2014