UNRWA inaugurates American-funded school in Jabal Taj in Jordan

14 November 2016
US State Department’s Assistant Secretary of Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard (left) and UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl (centre) cut the new school ribbon during the inauguration ceremony. © 2016 UNRWA Photo

The U.S. State Department’s Assistant Secretary of Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard, and the UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl inaugurated today the newly constructed American-funded UNRWA school in Jabal Taj in Amman.

The new school in Jabal Taj, funded by the United States, replaces three rented school buildings that accommodated five administrative UNRWA schools. The new school is equipped with new furniture, as well as specialized facilities, including science labs, libraries and a learning resource centre. The new school is accessible for persons with disabilities and incorporates energy-efficient features, including a solar electricity generator; insulation; and water-saving technologies, such as rainwater harvesting.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Assistant Secretary Richard said: “This project is a model of what governments, communities, and aid agencies can achieve when we work together toward a common goal:  giving kids the education they deserve. ”

Thanking the United States for its support, Mr. Krähenbühl, said: “Last school year, some 1,200 students and 83 teachers went every day to the schools in Jabal Taj, where the conditions in the rented buildings were not suitable for normal education interaction. Thanks to  the United States government and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Agency managed to secure the plot of land on which the new American-funded school was constructed by reaching an agreement with the Greater Amman Municipality.  As a result, Palestine refugee children and teachers can enjoy and improve their education in a well-designed and well-equipped purpose-built school in Jabal Taj.”

Rented school buildings pose serious educational challenges to UNRWA in Jordan, with small apartment bedrooms, living rooms or even kitchens being used as classrooms. Severe overcrowding, poor lighting and ventilation, and a lack of additional facilities – such as science labs, computer rooms, libraries, adequate sanitary facilities and playgrounds – constitute a grossly inadequate learning environment. In addition, the proximity of the Jabal Taj rented school buildings to main roads, residential buildings and shops presented access and noise issues and posed serious safety and security risks to school staff and students. Following the completion of the new Jabal Taj school, 59 of the 171 UNRWA schools in Jordan are run from 28 rented residential buildings.

The United States is the largest single donor to UNRWA, providing nearly US$ 360 million to UNRWA’s 2016 appeals.  Earlier this summer, the United States announced funding to support the construction of another purpose-built school in Zohour, Amman, to replace rented school facilities.

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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