Enhancing Quality Learning in a Fragile Environment: Case of the Palestinian Refugees
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AbstractUNRWA Support to Palestinian Refugees // United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been providing services to Palestine refugees for the last 60 years in not only relief and rehabilitation but also in development areas including health and education in five regions/fields viz. Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. This paper attempts to discuss the complexity of providing quality education in the Palestine region with different socio-political and conflict situations facing also additional problems in inter-field travel and transportation. The Agency has been adopting traditional ways of education and training through mainly face to face mode within institutional context, but lately has started working on use of information and communication technologies and other innovative practices for educating the refugee children/youth and training teachers and other support personnel. While the Programme has done fairly well in providing access to refugee children for basic education, it has not achieved in maintaining quality in its provision due to many internal and external factors affecting the Programme. This paper attempts to describe the conflict ridden and fragile environment in which the programme operates, highlights its achievement especially in almost universal access of refugee children to basic education, identifies the quality issues inherent in the system and describe the various ICT applications and other innovative practices being adopted and planned for enhancing the quality of educational provision including coverage of learners with special educational needs. Discussion will focus on how these applications are helping or expected to help in increasing access as well as enhancing quality of the education and training provisions. // UNESCO-UNRWA Education Programme // As a result of an agreement signed between UNESCO and UNRWA in 1951, UNESCO assumed the technical responsibility of the Education Programme through the secondment of a number of technical and managerial staff on a non-reimbursable loan to the Agency. Since 1995, UNESCO has been directly recruiting the Director of Education and Chief of Educationa Planning and Management and also been sponsoring some four senior-level local area staff for advise to UNRWA’s Commissioner-General on all policy aspects of the operational and technical activities of the Education Programme. Thanks to the ongoing technical support from UNESCO the Education Programme of UNRWA has made significant contributions to Palestinian human development, shaping the lives, aspirations and futures of three generations of Palestine refugees. Historically, the Agency has enjoyed a reputation for innovation, dynamism and vision in its approach and commitment to education. As of 2008, there were approximately 4.7 million refugees registered with UNRWA. Almost 40% of the 4.7 million registered refugees are estimated to be children below the age of 18 Years. UNRWA has been providing education services for over 60 years.