Virtual Exchange from Syria and Gaza for a Quality Education for All

08 November 2017
Asma Elementary Coed ‘C’ School, Gaza. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al Saraj

This autumn, students across 15 schools in Syria, Gaza, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Norway are connecting through the virtual exchange project, My Voice-My School.

Over twelve weeks, UNRWA students are working with their overseas partner schools to explore the importance and impact of education, and develop a student advocacy project suggesting how education can be improved for all young people.

My Voice-My School and the advocacy projects students develop in their classroom reflect the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 “Quality Education” and support students to speak up for the right of every child to a quality education, wherever they are. 

“We wish all kids have equal education in a warm, loving environment,” explains Marah Abu Hashish, a 10-year-old student in Gaza to her peers in Flanders.

During the project, classes in both locations meet online three times via video link to share ideas, and student projects and discussions are filmed and photographed to bring these young voices to the attention of a wider audience via the press and social media.

Co-developed with virtual learning specialists Digital Explorer, the My Voice-My School project has involved over 900 students from upper primary and middle schools since its inception in 2014. This year, thanks to the generous support of the Government of Flanders, UNRWA is piloting the project with upper primary students, including the development of a new set of resources.

“We need to listen more: to involve children and youth so that their voices and concerns are heard,” says Director of UNRWA Education, Dr. Caroline Pontefract.  “Student engagement is a key element of the UNRWA approach to quality education, whether in regular times, or times of emergency.”

Through the My Voice-My School project, students are encouraged to think and share ideas about teaching, learning, and the use of technology in the classroom. The end result reveals to all students the right of every child to a ‘quality education’ wherever they are. 

With special thanks to our donors and partners for 2017-2018

Flanders

The My Voice-My School project is part of Flanders’ commitment to UNRWA and Palestine refugees. For more than a decade, the Government of Flanders has been supporting UNRWA in its provision of essential services like education and healthcare to millions of Palestine refugees. My Voice-My School gives Flemish pupils a view into the lives of Palestinian children while they exchange their ideas on quality education. Education is not only important for learning facts and skills to create chances and opportunities,  but it is also essential for building bridges across borders and cultures to create solidarity and trust, thus paving the way to a more peaceful world.

Belgium

Relations between UNRWA and the Kingdom of Belgium date back to 1953. Through the years, in line with its main objective for humanitarian assistance as well as development cooperation (the realization of sustainable human development to reduce poverty and inequality),  Belgium has been a staunch supporter of UNRWA. Since 2010, Belgium has supported the Agency with over EUR 70 million. This includes annual contributions to the Agency’s Programme Budget as well as support to specific projects, such as Education in Emergencies, and other UNRWA emergency operations in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territory.

Donors to the Syria Crisis Appeal for 2017

Thanks to generous donors to the Syria Appeal, My Voice My School has been funded for a fourth year giving Palestine refugee students from Syria a voice. The student advocacy project is running in Bergen, Norway and in London, United Kingdom. Click here for more information on UNRWA emergency activities in Syria and donor support.

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
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+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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