At the UNESCO Mobile Learning Week Conference, held in Paris from 17 to 21 February, UNRWA showcased a state of the art educational platform. The Short Message System (SMS) Platform will be used to send informational, instructional and motivational messages to school principals, teachers and administrators. The platform will benefit over 21,000 educators in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan.
“UNESCO has always one of the most important and strategic UNRWA partners,” said Dr. Ayman Murad, Head of the UNRWA education programme’s Partnerships, Communication and ICT Unit. “We are delighted at the opportunity to participate in this flagship conference on mobile learning, and illustrate how a tried and tested technology like SMS can be used to reach educators in far-flung rural areas and refugee camps in a flexible and cost-effective way.”
UNRWA also contributed to the launch of the 2013/14 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. The report is the primary instrument for analysing global progress towards meeting the education goals set forth by over 160 countries at the 2000 World Education Forum. The latest edition of the report, focused on Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All, was launched in February at a conference in Oslo, hosted by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and the Norwegian Refugee Council.
At the conference, Dr. Caroline Pontefract, Director of the UNRWA/UNESCO Education Programme, gave a presentation on ‘Quality Schools for Quality Teaching for Palestine Refugees’. Dr. Pontefract provided attendees with insights on the implementation of the Agency's education reform, which has focused on teacher effectiveness as one of the most important school-based predictors of quality education. The UNRWA education reform is currently being implemented, and will benefit 703 schools serving over 500,000 students, over half of whom are girls.
“UNRWA and UNESCO have worked together for 60 years in providing Palestinian children with quality education”, said Dr. Pontefract. “We are delighted to be share the experience of the UNRWA education reform, which has benefited from UNESCO support at the launch of this year’s report on how the world is doing in terms of achieving Education for All and the centrality of teachers in this 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$ 68 million.