Foreign Assistance:

U.S. Assistance for Elementary and Preparatory Schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

NSIAD-99-48R: Published: Dec 15, 1998. Publicly Released: Dec 15, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO: (1) identified all U.S. funds provided for the benefit of elementary and preparatory schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for fiscal years 1996, 1997, and 1998; and (2) provided certain information on U.S. assistance for schools in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

GAO noted that: (1) for fiscal years 1996-1998, it estimated that U.S. assistance to United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) elementary and preparatory schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip totalled about $69 million; (2) the U.S. share of UNRWA's education budget for the West Bank and Gaza Strip accounted for $65.2 million; (3) the remainder was an Agency for International Development grant of $3.6 million for an UNRWA program involving school construction and maintenance activities; (4) no U.S. assistance was provided for Palestinian Authority (PA) schools; (5) U.S. assistance to UNRWA elementary and preparatory schools in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria totalled about $61 million for fiscal years 1996-1998; (6) these funds represent the U.S. share of UNRWA's education budget and U.S. support for special funding projects under UNRWA's Peace Implementation Program; (7) the United States Information Agency (USIA) provided English language training for teachers in schools in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, but USIA funding information was not readily available; (8) however, USIA noted that aggregate spending levels were small compared to the other funding activities; (9) an Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) official told GAO that no OPIC funds had been made available for elementary and preparatory schools in the region during fiscal years 1996-1998; (10) two private voluntary organizations operating in the region told GAO that none of their funds had been spent on activities benefitting PA elementary and preparatory schools; (11) they were also unaware of any other private voluntary organization in the region with such programs; (12) determining whether any textbooks used by UNRWA were those reviewed by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace was beyond the scope of GAO's review; (13) however, UNRWA documentation shows it purchased PA textbooks as early as the 1995-1996 school year; (14) according to UNRWA, less than 2 percent of its education budget for the region was spent on textbooks in the current school year; (15) the U.S. proportional share of these expenses was about $791,000; and (16) the conference report on the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1999 directed that the Secretary of State submit a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees "specifying whether the content of the textbooks and curricula used by UNRWA contains anti-Semitic material" not later than 90 days after the act's enactment.

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