UNRWA joins first Palestinian teaching standards conference

22 February 2013

21 February 2013

“Having UNRWA with us means that we are linking our teacher development to prepare for the future” says Deputy Minister for Planning and Development

UNRWA this week participated in a historic conference on teaching standards in the occupied Palestinian territory. Hosted by the Palestinian Ministry of Education in partnership with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the first-ever Palestinian International Quality Teachers for Quality Education Conference was dedicated to the advancement of teaching theory and teacher training for Palestinians.

The conference was a milestone in the education reform process in Palestine, marking five years since the Quality Systems for Quality Teachers programme was conceputalised. Director of UNRWA Education Dr. Caroline Pontefract was a keynote speaker at the event, and joined by additional UNRWA education staff from the West Bank and Gaza. This programme in focus was designed by UNESCO Ramallah, with the Minister of Education in Ramallah and Dr. Pontefract in her former role in UNESCO HQ, Paris.

Under the theme Towards Quality Teachers through Innovation, Reflection, and Leadership, challenges related to teacher education were discussed by Palestinian, regional and international experts. In her keynote speech, Dr. Pontefract outlined central concepts of professional teaching derived from the UNESCO “ILO-Recommendations on the Status of Teachers”, and used the focus on teachers within the UNRWA Education Reform as a case study.

The Ministry for Education and Higher Education cited UNRWA’s participation in the conference as a reflection of the strong engagement and interaction between the two bodies towards providing quality education to Palestinians. In his closing remarks, Deputy Minister for Planning and Development within the Ministry for Education and Higher Education Dr Basri Saleh said: “ I have to refer to the importance of having Caroline and UNRWA colleagues with us, as we have Palestinians students in all the five fields of UNRWA.

“This conference was a crucial step in the reform process and towards linking with partners in education. It is essential that we utilize the fruits of this conference as we move forward in the reform of the [Palestinian] Teacher Education Strategy, and having UNRWA with us means that we are linking our teacher development work together as we prepare for the future”.

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.

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Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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