- Gaza’s Location is in the southern district of Palestine, one and one-half hours south of Jerusalem in the southwest. Its population includes one million people.
- Gaza confession is 0.05% Christian; area and region is exclusively Muslim. [There are a total of 5,000 Christians scattered across a population base of 1,000,000 people].
- Gaza is considered the poorest sector in Palestine.
- Majority of Gazans are unskilled workers. Latin Patriarchate School offers the highest standard of education in the region and directly the School provides 60 jobs through staff members.
- Gaza Latin School provides a strong base for developing community/area relationships.
The Latin Patriarchate School:
The Latin Patriarchate School & Resource Center’ holds out hope a better future to thousands of Palestinians in Gaza District.
Gaza is well-known as the poor, under-developed, often overlooked southern region of Occupied Palestine, ninety-minutes by car from Jerusalem to the south of Israel. From Gaza School’s current roster of 1,250 students, 130 are Christian and the rest are Muslims.
Economy and Employment:
Gaza has rich fertile land as a resource, yet inaccessibility to enough water for irrigation makes it virtually impossible to tap the potential of the area. Because of this, land use has little bearing on Gaza’s economic struggle. Agricultural output is derived principally from fruits through a local abundance of orange trees, but these bear low productivity fruit because of irrigation problems. There is, however, some small industry mainly for local consumption. Since all movement of goods into and out of Gaza is controlled by the Israeli Occupying Government, providing industry with the raw materials and marketing their production is almost impossible. In effect, Gaza is a big prison for its people as well for its economy!!
Unemployment is quite high since the prohibition from entrance to Israel by Gazans. This prohibition has had disastrous results on the subsistence of families. The economy of Gaza was not allowed to follow natural growth over the years since the people were a captive market for Israeli produced goods and a source of cheap labor inside Israel. The economy of Gaza cannot support the populace at its current level. Currently, there are attempts to tackle
the task of job creation and make it stable and at a level that prohibits poverty. Despite optimistic expectations, until a means for shipping goods in and out of the West Bank to other countries is worked out, the economy will not grow if there is limited access to markets, which is the current situation.
The majority of Gaza citizens are illiterate and unskilled. The opportunities for unskilled employment come mainly in the construction and agricultural sectors, primarily at planting and harvest times. Most of these workers are employed in the Israeli industrial zones. Few Gazans are fortunate enough to be employed in the workplace outside of Gaza. Again, work is generally in very humiliating conditions as unskilled and low wage laborers.
It’s quite known that the unemployment rate in Gaza right now is 65% and most of the population is below the line of poverty with an income of less than $100 monthly per working person.
Gaza is one of the highest densely populated areas in the whole world with about 4,152 persons per sq. km. and with a high level of unemployment. The highest population age group is under 15 years of age (50.3%). Social problems are huge in Gaza, which are mostly hidden because of strong traditions and social impact where individuals have no right to express themselves or the liberty to declare their opinions or behaviors.
Gazans have suffered considerably during the past decade of political upheaval. Border closures, strikes and curfews were abnormally high in the Strip. Businesses suffered and many closed their doors permanently. The stagnation of the economy and the violence during the past has had its effects on the social and economic well-being of the family. Consequently, the strong, close family structure that controlled social behavior in the past has broken down. Furthermore, living near and working with Israelis has created unreasonably high expectations of living standards. Years of military control, frustrated expectations of life and near poverty conditions have created a society that is unstable and open to wide swings in political stability. The instability itself creates insecurity and resultant fears that contribute further to social deterioration.
Gaza Latin Patriarchate School:
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is the center of Catholicism in Palestine and Jordan, not only in service of the Catholic communities but also open for all Christians and Muslims. The Patriarchate services cover relief, medication, social and educational sectors. For almost 150 years the Latin Patriarchate provided high standard of education for the whole Palestinian society, as well for Jordan.
The Latin Patriarchate school in Gaza was built in 1974. It is considered as the best school in Gaza, providing a high standard of education, cultural exchange, Christian atmosphere and religion teaching for Christian children. The school has about 1,200 students and as everywhere in Gaza, the school is overcrowded.
The idea to start the new school came out of the daily experiences of Fr. Jalil Awad the former parish priest of Gaza, who believes that the best solution will be building a new complex and moving part of the students to the new section.
Vanguard of Educational Development:
The school in Gaza is recognized as one of the best, if not the best, in the city. It has an enrollment of 1,250 students of which 10% are Christians and the rest Muslims. The school, like other Latin Schools, is dedicated to raising the educational level of the poor. Although private, it is not biased in favor of the more affluent. Students are admitted regardless of their background. The school receives many children from very poor families since their policy is to educate the needy and not just those who have funds. The schools do not have government support, and receive so many underprivileged children that they must seek support from sources outside the country to carry on their educational task. The Latin School would like to see students prepared to meet the challenges of economic and social survival.
In the past the private schools were the first to become the educators of the poor and to open its doors for girls. The proposed new school will educate both girls and boys in mixed classrooms. The Ministry of Education knows that only the private, well run Christian school, unencumbered by extensive bureaucracy can educate together the men and women of the future. The Ministry is very encouraging to the Latin school administration to continue to bring innovative advances in education to the people. President Yasser Arafat. The Head Of the National Palestinian Authority, is donating the land and encouraging the Latin Patriarchate Schools to build and operate this new high school.
For those who do remain in the country, Gaza Latin School and its facilities serve as the strongest single center for community relations, open and responsive to the needs of the townspeople. From weekly boy and girl scout meetings, to civic discussions on current affairs, to parent-teacher sessions, the very existence of these facilities continues to promote public access to interchange, and keeps alive many integral forms of community expression and development in Gaza. ^
Hope for Peace in Palestine:
is already bearing fruitful promise in Gaza. More townspeople and others from the commuting vicinity are seeking to enrol their children in the Latin Patriarchate School that they might later profit from the advance-standard education and instruction it offers in a free (or at least more open) society. Satisfying rising enrolment and other emerging needs in Gaza requires an expanded base, and construction of “The Latin Patriarchate School & Resource Center” supplies the base needed to effectively marshal plans of response to all varied regional educational, social, and cultural needs currently not being met in schools in the Southern Region on the scale now warranted.
Gaza City is the ideal location in the Gaza District, at this time for an education based, multi-use facility offering flexible capacity designed on foundational themes of social renewal, social-integration, and social-progress. A new combined school/resource center for Gaza is sure to have powerful, positive, and long lasting impact on the lives of thousands of southern region Palestinians who presently are at a loss and in need of hopeful opportunities.