Posted on February 16, 2015

During a press conference which took place today at Al Shaqab in Doha, Education Above All’s Al Fakhoora programme signed agreements with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) for reconstruction, rehabilitation and psychosocial support projects in the education sector, with a focus on damages occurred in Gaza during last summer’s hostilities.

With the support of Al Fakhoora, the UN agencies will ensure primary, secondary and post secondary students have the right to a quality education and will strengthen child protection systems to provide psycho-social support to children. Speaking at today’s press conference and discussing the projects were: Farooq Burney, Director of Al Fakhoora, Frode Mauring, UNDP Special Representative, Scott Anderson, UNRWA Representative, and June Kunugi, UNICEF Representative.

In November 2014, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar (MOFA) signed an agreement to donate USD 40 million from the Qatar Development Fund to support Education Above All’s Al Fakhoora programme. Subsequent to this donation in November 2014 Al Fakhoora met with the UN agencies to review project proposals for rebuilding and re-equipping damaged schools and university buildings along with the provision of psychosocial support in Gaza. The UNDP project, entitled ‘Right to Education in the Gaza Strip’, will allow over 600,000 Palestinian children and youth to regain equitable access to quality education and its completion in an inclusive child-friendly learning environment by 2016.

The UNICEF project, entitled ‘Investing in Education and Building Resilience in Gaza’, will use a “build back better”approach to ensure that child-friendly schools are safe places for children, and will support innovative education for 113,885 students and teachers in 168 schools across Gaza. The project will also strengthen child protection systems to provide psychosocial support to children, and will enhance adolescents’ social entrepreneurship skills, so that they can become active agents of change in their communities. The UNRWA project will work towards restoring a safe and effective learning environment for the 242,000 children enrolled in UNRWA schools in Gaza.

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Commenting on the agreements signed with the UN agencies today, Farooq Burney, Director of Al Fakhoora, said: “The agreements we have signed today with the UN agencies are an important milestone towards the achievement of Al Fakhoora’s current mission of reconstructing and rehabilitating educational facilities in Gaza. EAA continues to be grateful for the donation made by the Qatar Development Fund in November. We are delighted to be moving forward with these significant projects proposed by our partners in Gaza”. 

Commenting on the UNRWA agreement, Mr. Anderson said: “School should be a place where children feel safe, secure and free to explore their potential. However, last summer’s conflict means that too many schools in Gaza no longer represent that haven. I thank Al Fakhoora for their timely support – support that will help restore the learning environment that the children of Gaza deserve.”

Frode Mauring, UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator highlighted that education is the way out of poverty, and also the way forward to build nations. “The needs in Gaza are immense. More than half of the population is under the age of 18. This partnership will allow the youth in Gaza to take a deeper view of their civic commitment to society and contribute to their right to shape the future. The project will enhance educational attainment and economic viability by rebuilding schools and educational facilities damaged during the recent conflict in Gaza.”

“At a time when so many Palestinian children in Gaza still struggle to return to a normal life, we welcome this important project which takes concrete steps to help girls and boys study in a safe, stimulating and uplifting environment, where entrepreneurial learning and innovation are also nurtured”, June Kunugi, Special Representative of UNICEF in the State of Palestine, said. “Palestinian children and adolescents will not only be beneficiaries, but also active participants in the change the Al Fakhoora project will bring in their communities. It is a chance not only for the children and their family, but for all of Palestine.”