Building Resilience through Education

26 September 2013
Building Resilience through Education

On 21 August, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) hosted the 'Education Development and Support for Children’ conference, in Damascus, to discuss the achievements of the Agency’s education reform, launched in 2011, and update stakeholders about its progress.

The annual two-day event was opened by the Officer-in-Charge of UNRWA Affairs in Syria, Mr Abdallah Al-Laham, who noted that despite the ongoing conflict, UNRWA was providing educational services. “On the contrary, the Agency has been able to adapt its plans to meet the needs of the Palestine refugees, and rise to the challenges faced by its staff and facilities as a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria,” he said, commending UNRWA teachers’ commitment to improving the lives of displaced Palestine refugee children. He congratulated the education staff for their efforts to develop self-learning materials for children whose education had been disrupted.

Expressing the Agency’s gratitude to regional and international partners, Mr Al-Laham noted that some 23 out of 118 UNRWA schools were offering for summer education classes for around 8,000 Palestine refugee students in the first through eighth grades. “With the help of the Ministry of Education we were able to continue providing education in crisis to build a solid educational foundation for displaced Palestine refugees in Syria,” he said. Mr Mohammad Ammouri, Chief of the Field Education Programme, echoed his comments.

Mr Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR), noted that “despite the conditions Syria is passing through,” Palestine refugee children had received important support from the Ministry of Education. Dr Caroline Pontefract, UNRWA Director of Education, noted that the Agency’s education reform was closely linked to the importance of continuing to provide education in emergency situations. By being innovative and adapting its services to the current situation, the Agency was helping to meet the increasing needs of displaced Palestine refugee children in Syria.

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Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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