PR: My Voice My School helps Palestine refugee students advocate for their future

UNRWA Haifa School, Damascus Autumn 2014 UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammed
UNRWA Haifa School, Damascus Autumn 2014

Education creates resilience and hope, especially during a conflict. Over the last three months, Palestine refugee students from Syria have had the opportunity to express their passion for education as part of UNRWA’s innovative #MyVoiceMySchool project, which completed last week.

Maha, a Palestine refugee student from Syria whose family was forced to flee to Beirut, said “The importance of education in our country and every country is that it is one of the human rights. It helps us to communicate with others. It gives us dignity and vision; it saves us from hunger, from poverty, from homelessness”, she says.

My Voice-My School, funded by UK Aid alongside the EU and UNICEF, and implemented with Digital Explorer, paired three Palestine refugee classes in Damascus, Beirut and Irbid with three classes in the UK. Over the course of the project, the students worked together to explore the meaning of quality global education, and to advocate for improvement within their local and school environments.

Conversations over Skype allowed Palestine refugee students to share details of their daily lives, discover their similarities and discuss the impact the conflict in Syria has had on their education. ‘We once had activities for fun and sport but because of the war no longer”, said the eighth grader.

Last week, students presented their final reports, outlining their research, findings and their recommendations for change. These included a school clean up in Irbid, and counselling for student-welfare and conflict resolution in Damascus

Ayeh, Serene and Nour, students at Nahleh Zeidan School in Damascus, reported “100 % of the people who took our survey agreed that schools should have a good conflict resolution strategy that can solve student-student problems that happen inside school. Such problems can make schools a violent environment. We believe that if we had such a strategy, schools would be safe and stimulating places where all students can feel equal and can work together in a more attractive environment.”

My voice-My Schooll is part of UNRWA’s commitment to provide quality, student-centred learning in emergency situations, says Caroline Pontefract”, UNRWA Director of Education. “This project helps students develop critical academic skills like research, communication, analysis and ICT in a unique and exciting way. It also gives students the opportunity to have their voices heard in the wider debate about education and express what they need to achieve at school and in their future”.

Background information
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.

26 May 2015