International Vision: UNRWA Schools in Lebanon Recognized for Globally Focused Curricula

11 December 2018
UNRWA students stand with their school principals and Mr. Salem Dib, Chief of UNRWA education programme to receive an International School Award (ISA), in presence of Mr. David Knox, Country Director of the British Council in Lebanon. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Cécile Massin

Palestine refugees have been and continue to be among the most vulnerable populations in Lebanon. They face substantial challenges to the full enjoyment of their human rights and limitations to key aspects of political, economic and social life. However, and in spite of the challenges they have faced, particularly in 2018, their distinction and creativity are apparent every day.  UNRWA school students and teachers put their resilience on show last week when five UNRWA schools were among 41 other private and public Lebanese schools awarded the full International School Award (ISA) accreditation at the International School Award Ceremony at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE).  

Awarded by the British Council, the International School Award is a prestigious badge of honour for winners. Five UNRWA schools were the proud recipients of the Award presented by the British Ambassador to Lebanon, H.E. Chris Rampling and the Director General of MEHE. The winning UNRWA schools are: Mazar School in Beddawi camp, Tiberias School in Wavel camp, Jerusalem School in Beirut, Beir Zeit School in Siblin, and Deir Yassin School in El Buss camp, in Tyre.

UNRWA teaching staff introduced material into their syllabi based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in addition to the core values of humanitarianism and human rights. Some activities implemented in UNRWA schools included curricular activities on clean energy, poverty eradication, gender equality, climate change and waste management. This experience enables UNRWA students to learn about the outside world empowering their critical thinking skills and creativity.

The award is granted annually and the accreditation is valid for three years thereafter.  Over the last three years, eleven UNRWA schools in Lebanon have won this award! Other six UNRWA schools will be in the running for the 2018/2019 school year. The UNRWA education programme believes that it is the effectiveness of its teaching staff and programming that has empowered its schools to excel in the realm of international education, affording UNRWA students access to equitable, inclusive and a quality education. UNRWA students also excel in Tyre, where two Palestine refugee students from Syria (PRS) won the UNIFIL writing competition.

“Writing turned out to be the best and only way I found to talk about what I couldn’t express in any other way,” expressed Bissan, one of two 10th grade winners. Bissan Derbas and Batool Abo Shrark, study at the UNRWA Deir Yassin School.

Resourceful and determined, Bissan and Batool, like so many other Palestinian refugee students from Syria, are the living proof that Palestinian refugees are able to overcome the difficulties they face to accomplish great feats. Their success is a source of inspiration for their community and classmates alike.

UNRWA Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl acknowledges the achievements of UNRWA school students, “This is why UNRWA is here, committed, with dynamism and energy, to helping this generation, in search of dignity, to be recognized for their skills and their determination to contribute to global solutions.”

“UNRWA draws inspiration from the humanity it sees every day in the refugee community and youth in its schools in particular. This generation is absolutely determined to rise above adversity that surrounds them, to succeed in their education and to lead a life of dignity, a life in which the rights of all peoples are respected.”