22 May 2013
A celebration was held yesterday to highlight the achievements of UNRWA’s Japanese-funded University Scholarship Programme for Palestine refugee students.
Access to higher education is limited for many Palestine refugees because of their difficult socio-economic situation, hampering employment opportunities in an increasingly competitive job market.
Thanks to the financial contribution of countries like Japan, the Agency’s university scholarships contribute to the education of these students, and more importantly, the development of a highly skilled workforce, thus improving the lives of many refugee youth.
Past university scholarship holders have gone on to hold key positions at UNRWA, in host countries and other Gulf States, contributing to the social and economic development of the region.
Between 1955 and 2012, 5,771 Palestine refugee students benefited from UNRWA’s scholarship programme in the Agency’s five fields of operation: Gaza, Jordan, the occupied Palestinian territory, Lebanon and Syria. These students have obtained degrees in 53 fields of study. 213 new students have been granted scholarships for the year 2012/2013.
Today, we give you the testimony of two students whose lives have been changed due to this scholarship.
Rola Al Hayek is one of UNRWA’s talented students who was granted a scholarship during the 2008-2009 academic year to study Physics at the Beirut Arab University. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in July 2012.
"At first, my family was surprised when I said I wanted to continue my education because we did not have the ability to pay the university tuition fees, which are very high in Lebanon. They believed that when a girl reaches a certain age she ought to marry. Marriage can wait, but the opportunity to study cannot. I encourage every female to fight for education, as it is the only way to improve life as a Palestinian refugee”, she added.
Nowadays, Rola is working as an UNRWA teacher, educating Palestine refugee children who fled from Syria.
Maha Rajab Saymeh received a scholarship to study Accounting at the Islamic University in Gaza. Maha faced many difficulties in her young life, especially after her father passed away, leaving behind her mother and four sisters. However, this tragedy did not prevent Maha from completing her basic education at an UNRWA school in Gaza.
“I was always the best student in the class because I wanted to prove to my mom that her efforts did not go in vain. Purpose and perseverance determine ones success, and I worked hard to be the best", she said. "I completed my education without the stress, burden, and fear of needing to drop out because of financial burdens. Not only did this scholarship cover my fees in university, but also granted me relief and security throughout my university years.” Maha added.
Today, Maha is Assistant Professor of Accounting at the Islamic University of Gaza.