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To: The New Zealand Government

Aotearoa Educators for the learners of Gaza

The words "Educators for Palestine" on a green background above an open book with flowers coming out of it.
We, the undersigned educators, call on the New Zealand government to: 

  • Use diplomatic means to push for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and an end to the 17 year blockade of Gaza 
  • Increase funding and support to agencies which run schools in Gaza, including but not limited to UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency), which runs 40% of Gaza’s schools 
  • Condemn the deliberate and targeted bombing of schools and education infrastructure in Gaza as an attack on Palestinian children and society

Why is this important?

We are a group of teachers (ECE, primary and secondary), head teachers, education support staff, principals, and union members from across Aotearoa. We stand together for the right of young Palestinians to life and education. 

We work alongside learners every day. We consider their struggles, strengths, and the futures that their education lays the foundation for.  Consequently, the gravity of what children, students and educators in Gaza are going through hits home. Silence in the face of this unimaginable violence is not an option.  

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Activities 15 May 2024 report over 14,500 Palestinian children have been murdered in the past 8 months. Israel’s war on Gaza has created what UNICEF termed as “the most dangerous place in the world to be a child.” Save the Children calculate that 2% of Gaza’s child population has been killed or injured.  
 
UN experts are expressing grave concern over a pattern of attacks on schools, universities, teachers and students in Gaza have warned of a ’scholastacide.’  The term refers to the systematic and deliberate obliteration of education. We see this in the following:  

  • Of 625,000 registered students in Gaza no child has had access to formal education for half a year 
  • Relentless bombing has left the majority of school buildings damaged or destroyed 
  • 261 teachers and 95 university professors have been killed 
  • 1.4 million are now using schools and shelters while existing in the jaws of a man-made famine 
  • All 12 universities in Gaza have been destroyed 
  • The targeted destruction of education infrastructure endangers the educational future of an entire generation 
  • Mental health experts are warning that with homes, schools and family life ripped away, the psychosocial impacts on children are likely to be lasting 
  • 460 Palestinian children have been arbitrarily detained by Israel since 7 October, with some reporting starvation and abuse inside detention 

Palestinians are among one of the most highly literate populations in the world. They are as deserving of dignity and futures as any other learners, anywhere else in the world. To be able to learn, children and students need not only schools, but food, water and basic safety. We know within the rubble and tents our education colleagues are doing all they can to preserve learning in make-shift classrooms, but the destruction must end.
  
We highlight the ongoing funding of UNRWA as part of our call. The New Zealand government just announced it would make its usual scheduled payment of $1 million to the agency. The World Health Organisation emphasised that no entity other than UNRWA has the capacity to deliver the scale and breadth of assistance that 2.2 million people in Gaza urgently need. New Zealand must continue to and expand its funding of UNRWA. 

Our government has a range of diplomatic options to continue adding to the international pressure to end Israel's genocide in Gaza. Naming and condemning the deliberate bombing of schools and attacks on education by Israel in Gaza is a critical way to show moral leadership. The children of Palestine have a right to not only life, freedom and safety, but education. When these rights are under attack, we must act. 
 
 

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Updates

2024-07-19 17:22:44 +1200

100 signatures reached

2024-07-01 16:32:42 +1200

50 signatures reached

2024-06-27 22:14:22 +1200

25 signatures reached

2024-06-24 18:43:49 +1200

10 signatures reached