Educating for unknowable futures: The United Nation Relief and Works Agency-led education for Palestinian refugees in Jordan
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The Israel-Arab war in 1948 forced more than 750.000 Palestinians to flee their homes, as Israel was created on their land. The Palestinian diaspora has increased since then, and as of today there are 9 million Palestinian refugees globally, of whom 5.9 million are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). UNRWA is the primary provider of education for Palestinian refugees, and this year, UNRWA entered its 75th year of offering services to the Palestine refugees. This thesis attempts to contribute to knowledge within the field of refugee education. By addressing different approaches to education in emergencies, the thesis examines the intended purposes of the primary education for Palestine refugees residing in Jordan, through the eyes of employees at UNRWA. The analytical framework for this thesis relies on several approaches to refugee education – humanitarian, human rights based, development and a Freirean approach. Through the use of semi-structured interviews and document analysis, the thesis explores in what way the increased use of double shift schools, and overcrowded classrooms have affected the quality of the provided education, and how UNRWA’s Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Tolerance policy effects the intended purposes of the education they provide. Findings from the study show that external factors such as funding, have an impact on the education quality during the past years. Despite the unknown future for both the agency and the Palestine refugees, I argue that UNRWA educates Palestinian students for a long term, future-oriented outcomes.