UNRWA celebrates World Teachers' Day

05 October 2015
© 2013 UNRWA Photo

Education is essential to eliminating gender inequality, reducing poverty, creating a sustainable planet and fostering peace. In recognition of this, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) will join the rest of the world on 5 October 2015 to celebrate World Teachers' Day (WTD), an annual UN celebration that recognizes and celebrates the contribution of teachers across the globe. This year’s WTD theme is, ‘Empowering Teachers, Building Sustainable Societies – Mobilizing for a Roadmap 2030 for Teachers’.

UNRWA recognizes that great teachers play key roles in empowering students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the twenty-first century and better connect with people and experiences beyond their borders. Recognizing the invaluable contribution and expertise of educators, UNRWA is leading Field-specific events to celebrate WTD. The events will showcase the achievements of UNRWA teachers and of the wider Education Reform, an initiative which has inspired, elevated and transformed the teaching profession and teaching practices inside UNRWA classrooms.

UNRWA also seeks to highlight the achievements of the professional development programmes of the Education Reform, specifically the School-Based Teacher Development (SBTD) programme and the Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Tolerance (HRCRT) toolkit and training for teachers, the Inclusive Education Policy, and the Leading for the Future programme. On this day UNRWA will also launch the SBTD 2 Programme and three strategic units – Professional Development and Curriculum, Quality Assurance, and Assessment – in each of the Fields, which will play key roles in professionally supporting and developing the Agency’s teaching workforce.

UNRWA Director of Education Dr. Caroline Pontefract highlighted the progress that has already been made through the Agency’s Education Reform, launched in 2011. She noted that by offering innovative teacher development programmes, the Education Reform has empowered UNRWA teachers to make a difference in education delivery. She also expressed her profound gratitude to the teachers, saying: “Being well-trained, dedicated, enthusiastic and interactive, our teachers are reshaping the future of our school children. The ways our teachers are working through the reform are being noted beyond UNRWA.” 

Most importantly, this year’s World Teachers’ Day celebrations give the Agency an important opportunity to recognize the important work of UNRWA teachers, who continue to deliver quality education despite the many difficulties the face, including the ongoing crisis in Syria and last year’s devastating conflict in Gaza. The past summer was a particularly challenging time for UNRWA teachers and students, as an unprecedented funding shortfall in the Agency’s core programming budget had risked a delay in the school year in Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank, Syria and Lebanon. However, thanks to the remarkable generosity of key donors, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway, UNRWA was able to overcome the financial crisis and open its schools on time for nearly 500,000 Palestine refugee students across the region.

Watch the video featuring some of the teachers making a difference in the lives of Palestine refugee students.

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 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem 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.

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