UNRWA ‘disappointed’ by EU parliament’s claims about teaching hate speech

Palestinian schoolgirls attend a class in an UNRWA school in Gaza City (Mahmud Hams - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  May 1, 2021

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) stated on Friday that it was “disappointed” by the European Union (EU) parliament’s claims suggesting that UNRWA: “Teaches and disseminates hate speech and encourages violence within its schools.”

In a statement, a copy of which was sent to MEMO, UNRWA stated that it is a UN agency: “With zero tolerance for hatred, incitement to violence or discrimination.”

The UN body also confirmed that: “It unequivocally rejects such unfounded assertions and confirms that its educational materials uphold and advance the UN principles and values of neutrality, human rights, equality and non-discrimination regarding race, gender, language and religion.”

According to the statement, UNRWA explained that it is using the curricula of the host countries, indicating: “The content of the educational materials is thoroughly reviewed to ensure that it is in line with UN values and principles.”

UNRWA said that the EU parliament’s call for “an open-source platform to publish all our educational materials” is misplaced, noting that: “UNRWA has recently launched a centralised digital learning platform which hosts our educational materials for teachers and students. It provides a safe and centrally monitored system for teachers and administrators which includes a process for rigorous review of all content through a humanitarian principled lens.”

UNRWA continued: “This approach ensures an agency-wide coherence and alignment with educational objectives and UN values. UNRWA has a zero-tolerance policy for any deviation to UN principles.”

Regarding fact-checking its curricula, UNRWA claims: “Numerous external parties have validated the quality and content of UNRWA education, including its unique Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Tolerance and Conflict Resolution programme.”

Concluding its statement, UNRWA affirmed: “Oversight and accountability of any organisation is vital and UNRWA welcomes the opportunity to receive any member of the European parliament in any of its 711 schools to see first-hand the environment and teaching, and to engage with the students and educators.”