The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in collaboration with Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) celebrated World Teachers' Day 2014 with an event at UNESCO Palace in Beirut themed ‘Invest in the Future, Invest in Teachers!’
More than 250 people attended the ceremony, including Acting Director of UNRWA in Lebanon Heli Uusikyla, NRC Country Director Niamh Munaghan, EU Attaché Bruno Montariol, Palestinian Programme Coordinator for UNICEF Nazih Yaacoub, Palestine Embassy in Lebanon Cultural Attaché Maher Mshaaye’el, UNRWA teachers, school principals, other education staff and Agency partners.
The event highlighted the need for professional and trained teachers through the presentation of certificates to 126 UNRWA teachers based in the Central Lebanon Area who have completed the School Based Teacher Development Programme (SBTD). One of these teachers, Zainab Nimer, stressed the importance of high-quality teaching, self-improvement and teacher development to build the capacity of teachers, and through them, the capacity of the UNRWA education system.
Ms. Uusikyla thanked NRC, UNICEF, EU and UNESCO for their support to the UNRWA Education Programme. She emphasized the importance of investing in teachers, thanked UNRWA teachers for their hard work and acknowledged their crucial role in shaping the future of Palestine refugee children. Highlighting the achievements of UNRWA education reforms, Ms. Uusikyla congratulated the teachers who have completed the SBTD programme. She noted that an additional 750 UNRWA teachers are being trained under the SBTD programme this school year, an achievement that will hopefully be celebrated next World Teachers’ Day.
Ms. Munaghan said, “Teachers are a main focus of collaboration between NRC and UNRWA. This time last year, we launched the NRC/UNRWA ‘Inclusive Schools’ project, which allowed for the professional development of teachers through the establishment and support of ‘teachers’ communities of practice’ for 80 teachers in nine UNRWA schools in Beirut area and 17 head teachers in the North. With this new school year, the project has expanded to reach seven UNRWA schools in the South and Bekaa’ of Lebanon.”
In addition to the 126 teachers who completed the SBTD programme in Central Lebanon Area, the implementation of the programme has begun in the North Lebanon, Saida, Tyre and Beqaa areas, and will conclude in June 2015. The SBTD programme is part of UNRWA education reform that was launched in 2011 and will continue until 2015. Other reform programmes include ‘Leading for the Future’, which targets school principals and their deputies; curriculum and student assessment; inclusive education; and human rights, conflict resolution and tolerance.
World Teachers' Day was inaugurated on 5 October 1994 by UNESCO to commemorate the signing, in 1966, of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation on the Status of Teachers. The day aims to celebrate teachers and their central role in guiding children, young people and adults through the lifelong learning process.
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.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.
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