20 September 2010
UNRWA and UNICEF distributed today back-to-school kits to Palestine refugee schoolchildren in central Lebanon, Saida, the Beqaa and Tyre areas. The distribution of the kits took place in Bireh school in Beirut and was attended by UNICEF Representative in Lebanon Mr Ray Virgilio Torres, and Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Mr Salvatore Lombardo.
The US$182,000 project included kits with stationery items adapted to the needs of students from grade 1 to 12. The provision of grade appropriate basic school stationery will give each student the basic tools to learn and shall relieve poorer refugee families of a financial burden. Basic material shall also foster positive learning to all children and provide an incentive for students to continue attending their classes and not drop out.
This pilot project, fully financed by UNICEF Italy, comes as a response to the real needs of the Palestinian refugee community.
On this occasion Mr Ray Virgilio Torres said: “Getting students back to school marks important steps in the lives of children in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. UNICEF Lebanon country office is grateful for the generous contribution of UNICEF Italian National Committee who has made possible the purchase of essential stationery items for UNRWA school students from grades 1 to 12. The launch of Back-to-School with our UNRWA partner will ensure equity among students and shall hopefully alleviate the already very heavy financial burden on Palestinian families. There is an enormous amount of work ahead to improve the quality of education and the learning environment, but the faces of the children here today remind us that all is possible.”
Thanking all UNRWA partners, Mr Lombardo said: “As we provide our 30,000 pupils with these stationery kits on their first day back at school it is both a moment of pleasure as well as a chance for reflection. I am always delighted when we are able to provide concrete support of this kind that has an immediate impact on the community. I am also a little saddened that simple challenges such as the lack of pens and paper often prevent children from receiving the quality of education they deserve. Education is a priority for both UNRWA and for the community signaling as it does a path towards progress. I would like to thank UNICEF and USAID for their continued support towards preparing young Palestinians for a brighter future.”
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org