UNRWA wins ‘Against All Odds Award’

12 March 2009

12 March 2009

UNRWA has just been awarded the ‘Against All Odds Award’ by the Cisco Networking Academy for the work done in widening e-learning and fostering IT skills among Palestine refugees.

The Cisco Networking Academy is a comprehensive e-learning programme which enables students to develop valuable IT and communications skills in order to increase access to opportunities in the global economy. The programme is perhaps one of the most successful of all corporate efforts to overcome the "digital divide" separating the upper-income population enjoying home Internet access from the lower-income population that often lacks it. The program was established in 1997 to provide free curriculum training to high school students interested in learning how to install and maintain networking equipment. The programme integrates face-to-face teaching with the multimedia delivery of curricula and assessment over the Internet. It successfully prepares participants for networking and IT related jobs in the public and private sectors as well as for continuing education in engineering, computer science and related fields.

In 2000 UNRWA started a partnership with Cisco to start 6 Cisco Networking Academies in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. UNRWA also started offering the courses to local communities. There are now 8 academies, and the programme was expanded in 2008 to cover:

  1. Fundamental of Wireless Networks
  2. Network Security
  3. IT Essentials

These new academy programmes were integrated in all ICT courses.

The Against All Odds Award was awarded to UNRWA during the Arabian Adventure held in Cairo on 3-4 March. The Award went for UNRWA based on statistical analysis of UNRWA performance and the success that UNRWA had in fulfilling the following criteria:

  1. Teaching under severe conditions
  2. Ensuring quality teaching
  3. Following up on students till they graduate
  4. Providing the latest course to students

Given all UNRWA Cisco Academies, the award singled out the Gaza training centre for a special mention.

The UNRWA Cisco Networking Academy Programme is managed by Education IT Unit at HQ (A)


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$ 100 million.

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