UNRWA celebrates the Graduation of 1246 Palestine Refugees from the Gaza Training Centre

Equipped with knowledge, skills and hope for a better future, 1246 Palestine refugee graduates are prepared to take their first step in the labour market. On 4 November, the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre (GTC) organized a graduation ceremony to celebrate the creativity and innovation of its students who completed various different technical and vocational training courses in over 39 specializations.

The graduation ceremony of Development Pioneers cohort was held at the GTC in presence of the new Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Mr. Matthias Schmale, Chief Field Education Programme, Mr. Farid Abu Athra, Principal of Gaza Training Centre, Mr. Jamil Hamad, and education staff who gathered to share this special moment with the graduates and their families. At the end of the ceremony, the graduates were given their diplomas.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Schmale encouraged the graduates to continue their education, saying: “After only two weeks as Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, I have realized how much potential exists especially among the young women and men here. You are the most valuable treasure in Palestine. The education you received at the GTC gives you power to continue and be creative and dedicated to reach your goals.”

The ceremony included an exhibition of samples of the best work of students. Below are highlights of a number of these creative projects.

Telecommunications graduates, Lama Khattab, Amal Arayshi, Falesteen Basyouni, Samah Al-Qishawi and Dina Al Halabi produced a voice-controlled robot integrated within a traditional wheelchair. The goal of their project is to enhance self-mobility by enabling people with motor disabilities to control their wheelchair using a voice-recognition system. The voice commands, such as “forward”, “back”, “right” and “left”, sent to the robot through a mobile application, are transformed to actions. This cost-effective system was built with local materials within a period of four months. The project took first place in 2016 competition, held on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

“We are very proud to have produced this device, which will make the life of many persons with disabilities much easier. Not only does it cost just US$50 per unit, it is also user-friendly. This project was made possible thanks to the quality education we received at the UNRWA GTC and the genuine support of our technical instructors,” said Samah Al-Qishawi, one of the female graduates working on the project.

Mohammed Al Tartori and Asem Abu Abdu, who majored in Mechatronics, produced a smart solar cell equipped with a solar tracker system to ensure optimal production of electronic energy. Through the tracker system, the solar panels track the sun’s movements all day long. This graduation project could present a more efficient solution, amid the power crisis the Gaza Strip has been facing.

“We are truly honoured and privileged to have received our diploma from the Gaza Training Centre. We heartily thank the dedicated instructors who provided on-going support to us throughout these two years. We look forward to finding job opportunities that enable us to put what we have learned into practice,” commented Asem Abu Abdo.

Ahmed Al-Zoum, a Graphic Design graduate, won the first prize in the StarPack contest on a project under the name “Abu Hamid Nuts”. With the goal of maintaining hygiene, Ahmed decided to create a package that has a space for both the nuts and its shells. Saher Abdul-Hameed, also a Graphic Design graduate, was announced as the second winner of the contest with a project under the name “Abu Hamid Olive Oil”. Inspired by his love of olives and colours, Saher developed a holder for the olive oil bottles that took the shape of an olive leaf-shaped mold.

“When I was a kid, plastic building blocks were always my favourite game. I always wanted to put them together to build various shapes. After I grew up, I found this passion in the Graphic Design major offered by the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre. I’m thankful for the quality education and supportive technical instructors who guided me all the way starting from filling out the application to sharing the joyful news of winning,” commented Ahmed Al-Zoum.

The UNRWA GTC was established in 1953 with a vision to provide youth refugees with skills-based training and assist them in finding meaningful employment opportunities, increase their chances in the local job market and help develop the local economy. Currently, the Agency provides training opportunities for a total of 1,729 youth in both Vocational Training Centres in Gaza city and Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. To date, more than 23,000 students have completed the UNRWA Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme.