Korea helps UNRWA schoolchildren in Gaza get connected

15 December 2011

15 December 2011
Ramallah

The United Nations and Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Republic of Korea today signed an agreement in Ramallah under which the government of Korea, through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) will give US$ 400,000 to UNRWA to upgrade schools in Gaza with new computers.

The agreement was signed by Mr Lee Sangback, Resident Representative of KOICA to Palestine, and Mr Magnus Lindell, Director of External Relations and Communications, in the presence of a number of officials from both signing parties.

Mr Lindell thanked the government and people of Korea: “This imaginative gift gives the children of Gaza the ability to escape their present realities and the chance to improve their educational prospects. It is a delightful technology transfer from one of Asia’s most techno-aware societies to one of the most disadvantaged in the Middle East. We at UNRWA look forward to developing and deepening our relationship with Korea as there is so much to share between people and institutions.”

The contribution will enable UNRWA to provide 721 personal computers to 29 labs in 29 schools serving around 28,000 students.

Mr Lee stated that young people and students are the most important resources for the development of Palestine. KOICA Palestine Office prioritises education and has supported five education projects among the 10 projects it has implemented so far. He also emphasised the importance of the cooperation with UNRWA for this project and anticipated to help delivering good education services to Palestine children in Gaza and improving refugees’ lives.

Around 220,000 children in grades one to nine are currently taught in 243 UNRWA schools throughout the Gaza Strip. The education system is under severe strain as the Israeli blockade has hampered the construction of schools leading to overcrowding and “double shifting”, where one school building serves two completely different sets of teachers and students.

In order to cope with this issue, UNRWA has introduced an interactive learning programme designed by UNRWA teachers to provide children with special educational needs with alternative and fun ways to learn. The interaction of children with computers, and learning mathematics and Arabic through computer games (two lessons per day on average) has seen remarkable academic improvements as well as in generated positive attitudes towards learning and life.

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For more information please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
c.gunness@unrwa.org

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724
s.mshasha@unrwa.org

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact:

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