UNRWA’s work widening e-learning and fostering IT skills among Palestine refugees has been awarded the Best Gender Initiative Award 2010-2011 by the Cisco Networking Academy.
The Cisco Networking Academy is a comprehensive e-learning programme which enables students to develop valuable information and communications technology (ICT) skills in order to increase access to opportunities in the global economy.
Since 2007, UNRWA and UNIFEM (now UN Women) have worked to increase women’s competitiveness in the professional labour market. Women are helped to join the ICT sector by building their computer and technical abilities, and building computer-networking skills through the gender-focused Cisco Networking Academy Program (CNAP).
CNAP graduates are linked to the job market through coordinated private and public sector efforts.
Dr Ayman Murad, the head of the education IT unit, said: “We’ve long believed in the importance of helping women refugees overcome the obstacles they face accessing the labour market. This award is a tribute to the Agency’s – and our students – dedicated work in pursuit of this goal.”
The award is based on a statistical analysis of UNRWA’s performance, which showed the Agency’s success in providing equal opportunities for all, teaching under severe conditions, ensuring quality teaching, following up on students until they graduate and providing the latest courses. The award singled out the education IT Unit, as it runs the regional academy programme and supports UNRWA’s 10 Cisco Academies.
UNRWA and Cisco Systems’ partnership began in 2000, with the opening of 10 Cisco Networking Academies in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. These programmes were integrated in all ICT courses. UNRWA also started offering the courses to local communities.
The award was made at the Arabian Adventure Roadshow held in Amman on 17 and 18 May.
The Cisco Networking Academy programme is a highly successful corporate effort to overcome the "digital divide" separating the upper-income population enjoying home internet access from the lower-income population that often lacks it.
The programme was established in 1997 to provide free curriculum training to high school students interested in learning how to install and maintain networking equipment. The programme integrates face-to-face teaching with the multimedia delivery of curricula and assessment over the internet. It successfully prepares participants for networking and IT related jobs in the public and private sectors as well as for continuing education in engineering, computer science and related fields.