At the Damascus Training Centre of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), on the hillside south-west of the city, 12 young Palestine refugees sat together one evening to share their concerns, their dreams and their hopes for the future. It was an appropriate anniversary, as the centre’s international computer driving license (ICDL) exam centre had just completed one year of operations since reopening in April 2013.
With Syria torn by more than three years of conflict that have devastated its economy, the young people knew that they had to be prepared to seize every opportunity, not only for their own sake but for the country as a whole. Reminders of the situation surrounded them; the ICDL centre first opened in 2004, when it was the first of its kind in Syria, and more than a thousand Palestine refugees displaced by the conflict were now seeking shelter at DTC. Time will not wait for these young people, who have to not just survive in the present, but work hard at every moment to get ready for the future.
They’ve made one step on that journey by enrolling in a computer-training course. It’s organized by Engaging Youth, an UNRWA project funded by the European Union that provides young refugees with technical skills for the labour market. This particular course not only imparts valuable computer skills, but also offers accredited ICDL certificates that will help graduates improve their future job prospects.
Rasha Kreidi, 22, a graduate of the Assistant Engineer (Internal Design) course, explains why she enrolled in ICDL preparation. “After a course with this range of skills, I am sure that I can get a job. Having an ICDL certificate will improve my employability. The exam centre is very reliable and well organized.”
Elementary-school teacher Luai Abbasi, 33, adds that the course will help its graduates help others. “Computer skills enable teachers to use technology more effectively in the teaching process, which will help achieve educational goals more effectively”, he says.
In the year since the centre’s reopening, 343 people have taken the ICDL exam, of whom 20 completed all seven parts and received the certificate; 217 others passed individual modules. Luai and Rasha are among the 565 students attending Engaging Youth ICDL courses throughout Syria, in all nine Palestine refugee camps as well as communities in Aleppo, Damascus, Dera’a and Latakia.