12 November 2009
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the EU today inaugurated the Deir Qasi preparatory school in Mieh Mieh, in the Saida area of Lebanon.
An inauguration ceremony was attended by UNRWA’s Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd, and Ambassador Patrick Laurent, Head of the European Commission Delegation to Lebanon, as well as Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon Salvatore Lombardo UNRWA staff members, representatives of the Palestinian community and school students.
The construction of the school was funded by the European Union as part of a EUR15 million educational project aiming at enhancing and improving UNRWA's education system and opening better employment prospects for Palestinian youth in Lebanon.
AbuZayd thanked the EU for its continuous support of UNRWA, and in particular its commitment to furthering the education of Palestinian youth. "Young people are the future and we need to invest in them", she said. "By providing Palestinian children with concrete learning opportunities, our generous donors are paving the way for a brighter tomorrow."
Ambassador Laurent added that "by 2012, thanks to our joint endeavour, no school in Saida will be operating on double-shift; and more than 6,000 Palestinian children across Lebanon will have a new classroom. However, a new building by itself will neither improve the final exam results nor prevent children from dropping-out of school. That is why the EU and UNRWA have decided to examine and improve the quality of the education that the children receive."
The EU's support of Palestine refugees through UNRWA also includes a university scholarship programme for Palestinian students in Lebanon, which the EU has approved for three more years. The decision will bring the amount the EU has dedicated to Palestinian scholarships to EUR8.3 million.
The new facilities at Deir Qasi aim to provide a healthy and suitable educational environment for 900 Palestinian students, from grades one to nine The school’s construction has ensured the conversion of the school from double to single shift, with teaching time set to increase by 20 per cent. New specialized rooms and laboratories and a spacious playground will also give the opportunity for recreational and curriculum supportive activities such as computer courses.
Since 1971 the European Union has regularly supported UNRWA, becoming its largest multi-lateral donor. Between 2000 and 2009, the EU has provided over €1 billion of support to the Agency. This funding has enabled human development for the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
For more information on UNRWA’s work in Lebanon, please contact;
Hoda Samra: +961-1-840468