Question of Palestine home
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
26 March 2010
Hundred and eighty-fourth session
, 26 March 2010
of the provisional agenda
REPORT BY THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL
ON THE RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT OF GAZA
This document is presented in compliance with 182 EX/Decision 55. It
summarizes progress made by UNESCO since the 182nd session of the
Executive Board in providing assistance to the reconstruction and
development of the Gaza Strip. The Director-General intends to issue an
addendum to the present document before the 184th session of the Board.
No financial or administrative implications.
1. This document presents an update on the UNESCO response to the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip since the 182nd session of the Executive Board. It covers the period from September 2009 to January 2010.
2. January 2010 marked one year since UNESCO initiated, as part of the overall United Nations humanitarian response, its activities in Gaza aimed at reconstruction and development in the aftermath of the conflict (December 2008-January 2009). UNESCO’s contribution, as reflected in its six project proposals included in the United Nations Gaza Flash Appeal (February 2009) concentrated on two priorities, namely support to children and students’ access to quality education, and safety and protection of the media professionals in Gaza.
3. By the end of 2009, UNESCO had received funding for all its projects in the 2009 United Nations Gaza Flash Appeal. Thanks to a generous grant by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah, First Lady of Qatar, all education projects became fully funded (US $2.8 million). These projects had benefitted from early funding by Japan ($100,000) and Saudi Arabia ($214,796). Finland, as well as IPDC, contributed to the project on media safety and protection, respectively with $100,000 and $26,000. Finally, three UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors, namely Her Royal Highness Princess Firyal of Jordan ($61,736), Ms Ute-Henriette Ohoven ($50,000) and Ms Mariana Vardinoyannis ($25,000) had confirmed financial support to UNESCO activities in Gaza focusing on education, communication and information, and training of young people.
4. During the period of reporting, the Organization consolidated its presence and activities in Gaza. Several activities commenced as part of UNESCO’s early response were terminated. Building upon these activities and aligning with the priorities in Gaza, a larger programme of humanitarian assistance focusing on early recovery in the field of education (Part I) and communication (Part II) was established. In this connection, the operational capacity of the Project Antenna in Gaza City, which falls under the direct supervision of the UNESCO Ramallah Office, was strengthened with additional human resources and equipment.
5. Funds mobilization for humanitarian interventions is ongoing. Two education-related projects were included in this year’s Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP): one targeting remedial education in humanitarian priority areas of the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) ($599,200), and another providing support for visually impaired students in Gaza ($342,400). The Communications and Information Sector also submitted a project to the CAP aimed at strengthening the media coverage on human rights violations, conflict-sensitive reporting and protection of journalists ($155,000).
Part I – UNESCO humanitarian response in the field of education
6. Efforts remained focused on meeting urgent priorities in the field of education, where UNESCO had added value to bear in order to ensure full consistency in restoring educational services in Gaza.
7. In October 2009, the First Steering Committee Meeting for the UNESCO/the Office of Her Highness the Amir’s Office (Qatar) Partnership on Education in conflict-affected areas was organized at UNESCO Headquarters. In this context, the programme framework and the five project work plans developed for the education projects in Gaza were approved for funding by Her Highness’ Office. The projects focused respectively on: (i) higher education; (ii) secondary education; (iii) the promotion of the Inter-Agency Network For Education In Emergencies (INEE) minimum standards; (iv) educational planning and management; and (v) schools as safe zones. The funds for the projects were subsequently transferred to UNESCO in November 2009.
8. During the reporting period, major activities implemented were:
Support to higher education
. Universities in Gaza were consulted and contracts are currently being drawn up to provide fee waivers for vulnerable students at four higher education institutions. In addition, an assessment was initiated in January 2010 with financial support from Qatar, regarding current e-learning capacity in scientific disciplines in higher education institutions in Gaza. The study will in particular seek to determine ways to support the completion of the existing scientific curricula using e-learning, in a context where opportunities for scientific experimentation in laboratories is considerably reduced following the destruction of laboratories at main universities.
• In addition, together with WHO and FAO, UNESCO is formulating a joint programme in support of higher education in Gaza. The programme would include fee waiver grants to alleviate student access problems resulting from the blockade, as well as targeted learning interventions to ensure the continuation of the curriculum under the current circumstances.
Support to secondary education
. In December 2009, an external evaluation of UNESCO’s early response in this field was carried out. The evaluation focused both on the Tawjihee catch-up courses conducted in May 2009, as well as on the summer camps held in July and August throughout Gaza. Final recommendations focused on: (i) the need and pertinence of continuing and expanding this activity; (ii) the need to further improve the quality of these activities, in particular with a view to addressing the specific needs of young people in Gaza. These recommendations will guide the expansion of these activities during the current academic year, in the context of the new partnership with
Qatar (cf. paragraph 7 above).
Crisis planning and management
. With a view to supporting the gradual recovery and strengthening of the education system, a comprehensive assessment on the psychosocial impact of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, funded by the Government of Qatar, began in November 2009 and will be completed in February 2010. The study will provide invaluable information for programming in this area for all education actors working across Gaza.
• In January 2010, a mission to Gaza to map the needs, opportunities and capacities in the field of technical and vocational education was conducted.
Part II – Communication and Information
9. In August-November 2009, a total of 15 training workshops were organized for 150 participants in the Gaza Strip in cooperation with AMIN Media Network to empower marginalized young people through ICT, social media on the Internet, blogging and citizen journalism. The target groups included two universities, students, women activists, journalists, civil society organizations, youth and refugees. The activity was funded thanks to the support received from Goodwill Ambassadors Ms Ute-Henriette Ohoven and Ms Mariana Vardinoyannis.
10. The first part of the project in August 2009 focused on TOT training held by an international trainer to build the local capacities, expertise and pool of trainers in Gaza in new professional skills in ICT production and social networking tools on the Internet. The courses held during the second phase in September-November 2009 by the local trainers developed skills and abilities in content production to empower isolated and marginalized people through ICT, media production and social networking tools on the Internet and creation of support networks to reconnect people in Gaza and the West Bank. They also aimed at providing tools for self-expression, empowerment, dialogue and active participation in the Palestinian society to overcome mobility restrictions, isolation and knowledge and skills gaps.
11. During the reporting period, the implementation of UNESCO activities, together with those of other humanitarian actors, continued to be marked by limitations on free and sustained movement of goods and personnel into Gaza. Despite this situation and the lack of reconstruction of infrastructure, it has been possible to provide humanitarian assistance, notably in UNESCO’s fields of competence.
12. The Director-General intends to issue an addendum to the present document before the 184th session of the Executive Board, including a draft decision.