LWF and Holy Land Lutheran Church Partner to Strengthen Inclusive Technical Training for Women and Men
(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) have intensified their collaboration to strengthen vocational training opportunities for young Palestinian women and men. On March 29, ELCJHL Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar visited the newly renovated LWF Training Center in Ramallah, meeting with teachers and students to learn more about how this work can contribute to the construction of Palestinian society.
The new vocational training center is housed in a former church-run school known as the School of Hope, which has moved to more suitable premises in the nearby suburb of Beitunia. The center, which still requires further renovations, offers disabled access and other facilities that were not available to students with special needs at its previous location. Bishop Azar stressed that the conversion of the old school into “an innovative and inclusive vocational training center will be a significant boost for the program and its abilities to have a greater impact across Palestine.”
Bishop Azar and Visiting Delegation of ELCJHL, LWF and Partners Meet with Students at LWF Vocational Training Center
ELCJHL Director of Education, Dr. Charlie Haddad, is also excited about the opportunities the center can provide for students seeking employment in the fast-paced fields of computer programming and software development. green energy. “Vocational training is essential here in Palestine,” he says, “where parents traditionally want their children to become doctors, lawyers, academics or engineers, but the market is saturated for these people, so it is very important to change this state of mind”.
70 years of economic empowerment
A former director of the LWF’s vocational training program in the 1990s, Haddad worked hard to integrate vocational guidance into church-run schools located in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, Beit Jala and Jerusalem. “There is a great need in this country for skilled tradespeople and technicians, so we encourage technically-minded students to consider the benefits of training for these market-relevant skills,” he says.
The LWF has provided economic empowerment and vocational training to young Palestinians since 1949 and this work remains the cornerstone of its activities today. Two years ago, in March 2020, Bishop Azar and LWF Representative in Jerusalem, Sieglinde Weinbrenner, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to begin converting the old school building into a modernized training facility. professional. “The LWF has always worked closely with the church,” Haddad says, “but this increased cooperation is a vital step toward more targeted support for our students seeking to enter the workforce.”
We will continue to strengthen our gender-sensitive approach over the coming years.
Over the past decade, Weinbrenner notes, there has been a major effort to include more female students in training programs and to increase the number of occupations available to women in the local economy. The aim is to support women’s economic independence within the family, as well as to normalize women’s participation in a wider range of jobs and activities. “We will continue to strengthen our gender-sensitive approach over the next few years,” she adds.
One of the two women, enrolled in the auto mechanics course at the LWF vocational training center, shares her impressions of the warm welcome they received in this traditionally male-dominated course.
Nearly a thousand young students from all over the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem attend vocational training courses each year, in subjects such as carpentry, car mechanics, computer programming or graphic design. Both campuses in Ramallah and Beit Hanina offer both short-term and long-term courses, with more than 90% of graduates finding employment within six months of completing their training.
“There is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of resources needed to complete the conversion of the School of Hope,” concludes Weinbrenner, “but the joy and energy of everyone involved will surely make this task more easy !”
LWF Jerusalem has been providing vocational training to young Palestinian women and men for over 70 years. Its training centers aim to reach those who have limited opportunities due to precarious economic and social backgrounds, as well as those who face additional challenges due to disability.