A New Strategy Aims to Improve Technical Education for Palestine Refugees

22 July 2013

Alongside the other services it offers across its fields of operation, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) helps Palestine refugees develop skills and experience for their local labour markets through its Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme. In July, UNRWA staff from all five fields and headquarters, as well as donor partners, gathered in Amman for a TVET Strategy Forum, where they discussed the programme’s strengths, challenges and future.
Salim Shehadeh, the head of the UNRWA TVET & Youth unit, described the new draft strategy that was outlined, saying: “It defines the major principles by which we will develop TVET in the future as an integral part of our education system for Palestine refugee youth.” Three major themes have been identified in the new strategy: human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance, gender and inclusiveness.
“The implementation of the new TVET Strategy will increase the engagement and support of all stakeholders within UNRWA, as well as our partners in the labour market and the donor community,” said Dr Caroline Pontefract, UNRWA Director of Education.
Donors have been a vital source of support to TVET. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) provided technical assistance and cooperation, including through the secondment of an ILO policy adviser, while the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through the German International Cooperation (GIZ), has been working to strengthen TVET internal systems.
Maha Izhiman, the TVET Programme Adviser at GIZ, said: “We will continue supporting the development of the UNRWA TVET Strategy in a participatory manner with UNRWA staff and GIZ consultants.”, Of the new strategy, she added: “It illustrates the commitment of BMZ and GIZ towards the enhancement and development of TVET, including Placement and Career Guidance, as an important programme for Palestine refugee youth.”

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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 more than US$ 106  million.

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