13 June 2012
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) opened an education reform forum today in Damascus, bringing together 250 education specialists, including staff of the UN Agency and its partners, to familiarise them with the reform strategy to be undertaken in its education programmes.
The two-day forum at UNRWA’s Damascus Training Centre will examine the strategy’s focus on teacher development, curriculum and student assessment, inclusive education, as well as technical and vocational training.
The event will also provide education staff with an opportunity to engage in thoughtful discussions about the reforms, and develop mechanisms to disseminate the reform strategy at both the programme and local community levels.
Senior staff from the Agency’s education programme in Amman and Damascus will share their experiences on these topics.
Launched in all of UNRWA’s areas of operation last year, the education reform strategy aims to establish an environment whereby schools and teachers receive appropriate and timely professional and administrative support. It will also enhance the quality of education provided to Palestine refugee students, and will be in line with UNRWA’s commitment to the human development of its beneficiaries and with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
“There is no doubt that the reform strategy is an ambitious task and seeks to develop the full potential of Palestine refugees. Focusing on quality, efficiencies and effectiveness is at the heart of these reforms”, said Michael Kingsley-Nyinah, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria. He also highlighted UNRWA’s commitment to ensuring that generations of young people have the chance to build a future for themselves and their communities through education. He thanked the Syrian government for its firm and continued support.
Mr. Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR) cited the importance of education for Palestine refugees and thanked the Syrian government for its firm support to Palestine refugees and highlighted GAPAR’s fruitful co-operation with UNRWA.
Dr. Caroline Pontefract, the Agency’s director of education, underlined how the reform strategy will contribute to higher-quality education for Palestine refugee children.
The meeting featured several working sessions, where participants met in groups to discuss ideas and mechanisms for fostering awareness about the strategy and to encourage its dissemination among education staff. The sessions also highlighted several indicators showing the advancement of education reform in Syria.
According to Mohammed Ammouri, chief of the UNRWA education programme in Syria, the recommendations of the meeting will provide a framework for sharing the reform strategy with teaching staff and the Agency’s partners.
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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.
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