In 2007, UNRWA began a comprehensive reform programme to strengthen its management capacity, in order to provide more effective and efficient services to Palestine refugees. This reform, known as organisational development, has focused on building capacity in four key areas:
- human resources management
- programme management
- organisational processes
- leadership and management
Reform in these four areas, coupled with development and implementation of the Medium-Term Strategy, will result in an Agency that provides quality services and standards driven by:
- excellence, results and outcomes
- evidence-based planning and needs-based service delivery
- decentralisation and empowerment, with a focus on delivery in the field
- active participation of, and consultation with, our stakeholders
- integration and co-ordination of planning, leading to a holistic approach to service delivery
- innovation and responsiveness
- effective partnerships with beneficiaries and co-ordination with other service providers.
In line with UNRWA’s Medium-Term Strategy 2010-2015, the Agency is now embarking on the implementation of programme reforms to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its core services. Below is an overview of the health, education, and relief and social services programmes’ reform processes as of 1 August 2012.
Health reform | Education reform | Relief and social services reform
As part of ongoing efforts to improve access and to strengthen the quality of primary health-care services, UNRWA introduced the family health team (FHT) approach as part of its reform agenda. To date, the approach has been successfully piloted within 17 health centres across the Agency’s five fields of operation. This has entailed the training of health-care staff, the integration of information technology infrastructure, and the renovation of health centres to ensure good patient flows under the FHT structure. Tangible improvements in efficiency and performance are emerging, which benefit both patients and health-care practitioners.
Within a changing environment of increasing health care needs – and particularly in light of increasing rates of chronic non-communicable diseases, rising costs and limited financial resources – it has become imperative to find and adopt new strategies to respond effectively to the emergent needs of the population.
Traditionally, patients have been attended to by different doctors for different problems, which were not continuously treated by the same doctor. Consequently, workloads were not evenly distributed among staff and consultation times were often unacceptably short. In contrast, through the health reform, the family health teams are responsible for the health services of families. These teams of health-care professionals work together to provide continuous, comprehensive, patient-centred primary health care to their patients.
The family health team approach is being integrated into a wider range of efforts that aim to improve the quality of care; among other efforts, through the introduction of an electronic medical record and appointment system named e-health. E-health will help health staff to access patient information more quickly and easily, simplifying reporting processes, and thereby allowing for longer consultation times. As family health teams will get to know their families and have quicker access to each patient’s full history, it is easier for them to provide the best advice and care.
Following the implementation, and appropriate refinement of the family health team pilots, the approach will gradually be mainstreamed across UNRWA’s 138 primary health centres. This process will be finalised in Lebanon and Gaza by the end of 2013, and in Jordan, the West Bank and Syria by 2015.
Health Reform Strategy (PDF)
UNRWA’s education programme is undergoing a transformational change. Reforms are underway that will better position the Agency to meet the evolving demands of an education system in the 21st century. These will lead to improved quality of learning for Palestine refugee students in UNRWA’s schools, vocational training centres, and educational faculties.
The education reform strategy sets out a comprehensive, inter-related programme of action. Optimal benefits and sustainable impact will be achieved through this approach, which ensures that students are at the centre of the system, teachers are supported, schools are empowered, and the whole UNRWA education system is strengthened. Reform components, being pre-tested and implemented within UNRWA fields, will be mainstreamed across the UNRWA education system by 2015.
Teachers are UNRWA’s single most important educational resource, central to the provision of quality education. Following formal adoption in 2013, a teacher professionalisation policy and a teacher career path policy will provide a framework for the Agency to support and motivate teachers as valued professionals to deliver the highest-quality education. These policies will encompass teacher recruitment and training, professional development and support, diversified and motivating career opportunities, professional accountability and quality assurance, and school empowerment.
The school-based teacher development (SBTD) programme, to be launched in October 2012, shows teachers how to embrace new methods of supporting student learning away from a didactic approach (focusing on a process of memorisation) towards holistic styles and approaches (“active learning”). Two of the six teacher training modules were pre-tested by 250 teachers in all five UNRWA fields during 2012. The results were very positive, with the overall majority of teachers saying they liked the “style”, the “approach”, and the “language” used, and were confident that learning outcomes would be achieved through the learning activities and case studies.
Global research evidence shows that school leadership is a key factor in the quality of education a school provides. The school-based principal development (SBPD) programme, to be launched in October 2012, builds on head teachers’ and principals’ existing knowledge of leading and managing people, to strengthen competent and confident leadership within schools through the acquisition of practical skills, tools, and techniques, to support effective, efficient, and equitable education.
Inclusive education is a philosophy that underpins the education reform. It lays out a set of actions and practices and teaching methods that teachers can employ with their pupils. Inclusive education does not only refer to children with special needs or to remedial education, but rather it is an approach that aims to meet the learning, psycho-social, and health needs of all children. Through the reform, teachers’ capacity will be strengthened to adopt strategies and approaches for learning that are inclusive of all children.
UNRWA has been teaching human rights, conflict resolution and tolerance (HRCRT) in its schools for many years. Guided by the HRCRT policy adopted in 2012, UNRWA’s teaching in these areas is being updated, building upon past successes and drawing from international best practices in human rights education in schools. The HRCRT policy sets out the commitment for common objectives and outcomes for all UNRWA schools on teaching and learning about human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance. Gaza is the first field to have piloted the enriched human rights materials into the curricula of Grades 1 through 7, ahead of integration within all UNRWA fields of operation taking place between 2013 and 2015.
UNRWA provides education in varied contexts and different host-country education systems, and it is important therefore to ensure that the delivery of education in its schools aligns with the broader development goals of the UNRWA education programme. UNRWA’s education programme must also reflect the values, principles, and purposes of the United Nations. One of the key elements of the reform, therefore, is a system to maintain high-quality standards across all fields, and the framework for quality analysis and implementation of the curriculum will enable this by identifying and fulfilling needs for enrichment material.
Strategic planning, research, and development are essential components of a successful education system. Working within the Agency-wide results-based monitoring (RBM) system, a common monitoring framework for education (CMF) has been developed. Here, core common education indicators that reflect the goals of the Agency and reflect international definitions and standards, have been adopted by all fields. Measuring progress and impact against clearly-articulated indicators is enabling UNRWA to better understand what is happening across the Agency.
Plans and specifications for an Agency-wide education management information system (EMIS) have been finalised. This will allow for the tracking of individual students, the generation of automatic reports, and the computerisation of relevant indicators and projected figures – fundamental in the process of improving the quality of the learning experience, whereby schools and teachers receive appropriate and timely professional and administrative support.
Education Reform Strategy (PDF)
Relief and social services reform
UNRWA conservatively estimates that 1.2 million of the 5 million refugees it serves across the five fields are in absolute poverty, unable to meet basic food and non-food needs. More than 20 per cent of UNRWA refugees are poor. More disturbing, an estimated 700,000 refugees are abject poor; unable to meet even their basic food requirements. The objective of the relief and social services (RSS) reforms are to enable the Agency to provide more services with greater positive impact to vulnerable refugees.
UNRWA, with the support of donors, has made considerable strides in its ability to identify and evaluate poverty within the refugee community. The Agency has also completed considerable groundwork to underwrite change. This includes an increased focus on development, economic empowerment, and sustainable livelihood activities. The reform includes a gradual move to the "best practice" of cash transfers. Cash transfers will target food-insecure households through unconditional cash for people unable to work, job opportunities for those able to work, and conditional cash transfers to incentivise families to keep children in school.
While these reforms are underway, the current food program is in urgent need of support until other forms of assistance are available and being delivered.
Download the RSS strategy (PDF)