UNRWA joins first Palestinian teaching standards conference

22 February 2013

21 February 2013
Ramallah

“Having UNRWA with us means that we are linking our teacher development to prepare for the future” says Deputy Minister for Planning and Development

UNRWA this week participated in a historic conference on teaching standards in the occupied Palestinian territory. Hosted by the Palestinian Ministry of Education in partnership with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the first-ever Palestinian International Quality Teachers for Quality Education Conference was dedicated to the advancement of teaching theory and teacher training for Palestinians.

The conference was a milestone in the education reform process in Palestine, marking five years since the Quality Systems for Quality Teachers programme was conceputalised. Director of UNRWA Education Dr. Caroline Pontefract was a keynote speaker at the event, and joined by additional UNRWA education staff from the West Bank and Gaza. This programme in focus was designed by UNESCO Ramallah, with the Minister of Education in Ramallah and Dr. Pontefract in her former role in UNESCO HQ, Paris.

Under the theme Towards Quality Teachers through Innovation, Reflection, and Leadership, challenges related to teacher education were discussed by Palestinian, regional and international experts. In her keynote speech, Dr. Pontefract outlined central concepts of professional teaching derived from the UNESCO “ILO-Recommendations on the Status of Teachers”, and used the focus on teachers within the UNRWA Education Reform as a case study.

The Ministry for Education and Higher Education cited UNRWA’s participation in the conference as a reflection of the strong engagement and interaction between the two bodies towards providing quality education to Palestinians. In his closing remarks, Deputy Minister for Planning and Development within the Ministry for Education and Higher Education Dr Basri Saleh said: “ I have to refer to the importance of having Caroline and UNRWA colleagues with us, as we have Palestinians students in all the five fields of UNRWA.

“This conference was a crucial step in the reform process and towards linking with partners in education. It is essential that we utilize the fruits of this conference as we move forward in the reform of the [Palestinian] Teacher Education Strategy, and having UNRWA with us means that we are linking our teacher development work together as we prepare for the future”.

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.

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