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From beginner to app developer – Successfully conquering the digital divide
Sara Abo Ardat is a 29 year-old Palestine refugee living in Saida, Lebanon. A graduate of the UNRWA Siblin Technical and Vocational Training Centre (STC), Sara studied information technology. As a part of the program, she participated in a mobile application development course at the STC Innovation Lab. Together with her classmate, Alaa Titi, Sara developed a prototype app for UNICEF’s GIL program (Generation of Innovation Leaders).
"Not only did I learn how to programme cell phones, I also learned development, how to brainstorm and come up with new ideas. The training was very important and useful, I learned a lot," Sara noted.
Explaining her project, she continued: "The app facilitates the job of several GIL lab managers in Lebanon by supporting the registration of youth, sending announcements, news, events, and many others, and keeps participating youth up to date about the labs."
Sara and Alaa received UNICEF’s endorsement to build out their app for its use and acquisition. They are now in the final development stage and the app’s launch on the Apple App Store is imminent.
"This experience has been hugely beneficial to my life, giving me the chance to really develop my programming skills. I started as a beginner and have now become a professional who can support myself with my new skills. Now, both my colleague Alaa and I have incomes as a result of this programme. It has been completely transformative for us. I encourage all young people to enroll in trainings like this, as it broadens your horizons and develop your practical skills,” encouraged Sara.
The STC Innovation Labs and Youth Unit supports youth aged 15-24 by imparting entrepreneurial and life skills to expand their income-generating opportunities. By increasing the professional readiness and employability of Palestine refugee youth through the development of more innovative, inclusive, responsive, and sustainable learning systems, STC trainees are more likely to secure sustainable and sought-after employment opportunities. Innovation Labs are just one way UNRWA has implemented its digital transformation. Others include the Agency’s Digital Learning Platform and multiple health and registration mobile apps.
The UNRWA Youth Unit was established in 2017 in partnership with the UNICEF Generation of Innovation Leaders (GIL) programme. The Agency’s two Innovation Labs are embedded in its Technical and Vocational Training Centres, specifically STC’s north and south campuses.
Since 2017, more than 3,000 Palestine refugee youth have benefited from Innovation Lab services, including digital skills training, social entrepreneurship training, mentorship programming, and life skills programming. This International Women’s Day, UNRWA is proud to celebrate and support Palestine refugee women like Sara and Alaa who have bridged the #DigitALL divide through active participation and innovative thinking.
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