oPt

oPt: Inauguration of five newly-renovated schools in east Jerusalem

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Jerusalem, 21st October 2008: The European Commission together with Save the Children Sweden and the Faisal Husseini Foundation celebrated today the renovation of five schools in East Jerusalem, through funding provided by the European Union (EU). An inauguration ceremony was held at one of the five schools, the Greek orthodox Patriarchate School of St. Dimitri, in the Old City of Jerusalem. Mr. John Kjaer, the Representative of the European Commission in Jerusalem, as well as the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, attended the event along with representatives from the European Commission, Save the Children Sweden, and the Faisal Husseini Foundation. "Today's celebration reflects the ongoing commitment of the European Union to the provision of quality education to all Palestinians," said Mr. Kjaer at the ceremony. "It also complements the EU's other efforts in this sector, for example our monthly contributions to the payment of salaries for teachers through PEGASE, the EU's main assistance mechanism for assistance to the Palestinians."

The renovation of all five schools under the Comprehensive School Upgrading project included the upgrading of electricity networks, sanitation facilities, sewage systems, carpentry and mechanical works and general classroom conditions (paint, floors, and ceilings). The project also provided the schools with new school equipment that included computers, fax, and copy machines, in addition to school management software. Furthermore, the schools are benefiting through educational support that includes extracurricular classes and training for teachers, support to headmasters in school vision development, and training for teachers and school counselors with a focus on learning disabilities and other special needs.

The schools, Al Nahda "B, St. Dimitri school, St. Tarkmanchatz Secondary School, Dar Al Awlad, and Al Doha, are located in the Old City of Jerusalem and its surrounding area. In the coming months, two more schools, Dar Al Aytam "D" and Omar Bin Khatab Boys School will also be renovated. The EU has provided Save the Children Sweden and Faisal Hussein Foundation with a total of € 1,110.757 to implement the rehabilitation and renovation of these seven schools, and to provide educational support to eight schools, Al Nahda "A" being the eighth school, in East Jerusalem between January 2008 and December 2009. In total, the project directly benefits 1,881 pupils, 163 teachers and school counselors.

The project is part of an ongoing €2 million Euro programme, financed by the European Union, to help improve the infrastructure and provision of services to the people of East Jerusalem. The European Union is the largest donor to the Palestinian people, providing assistance across the occupied Palestinian territory through programmes that help to improve the quality of life of Palestinians, while laying the foundations for a future Palestinian state.

Save the Children Sweden works to ensure all children have the opportunity to learn and focuses on promoting quality education with universal values that include non-discrimination, equal participation, respect for diversity, tolerance, non-violence, and respect for the environment. Save the Children Sweden also stresses the importance of ensuring protection in and around schools and other educational settings by striving to develop child-friendly schools free from all forms of abuse including physical and humiliating punishment, and provides a safe and protective environment that fosters children's emotional, psychological, and physical well-being.

The Faisal Husseini Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization that was established in 2001 in memory of Late Faisal Husseini, to preserve the cultural character of the city of East Jerusalem, to maintain the Palestinian identity of its inhabitants and to develop services of its institutions. The Foundation focuses its efforts on improving three sectors in East Jerusalem: education, health and youth.

Contacts:

Ms. Alix de Mauny, European Commission Technical Assistance Office: 054 802 4915

Ms. Michelle Warriner, Save the Children Sweden: 0599 997736 or 054 5459 139

Ms. Rawan Assali, Faisal Husseini Foundation: 02 234 2686