UNRWA School Teacher Wins Earth Prize Educator of the Year

East Jerusalem/PNN/

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is proud to announce that Safa’ Obeid, a teacher at the UNRWA Sweileh Preparatory Girls’ School in Jordan, was selected as the Earth Prize Educator of the Year. Awarded a prize of US$ 12,500, Ms Obeid was selected by Professor Mario Salomone from the World Environmental Education Congress.

Ms Obeid entered her students in the Earth Prize competition – an environmental sustainability competition for students between the ages of 13-and 19 – under the themes of concern to them as Palestine refugees in Jordan. These include desertification of the Dead Sea by 2030, making camps more environmentally friendly and managing food waste in Jordan.

Ms Obeid entered three UNRWA Sweileh Preparatory Girls’ School student teams into the competition, where they designed creative solutions for the environmental challenges facing their communities. The team’s practical, innovative solutions included data from the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation. Her initiative and leadership were recognized by the Earth Prize selection committee and after an interview, Ms Obeid was selected as the winner of the 2022 Earth Prize Educator of the Year.

In addition to Ms Obeid’s students, 34 teams from 24 UNRWA schools and one vocational training centre registered their projects in the competition. Two UNRWA schools were named in the top 34 Earth Prize Scholar teams, namely the UNRWA Amqa Secondary Co-educational School in Lebanon and the UNRWA Gaza Training Centre, in Gaza.

Speaking after the announcement, Ms Obeid said: “I am very proud to represent UNRWA in this international contest on environment sustainability and be awarded the “Educator of the Year” title. This amplifies my sense of responsibility towards my environment, my community and my students. I have been very keen to integrate environmental sustainability in the classroom by creating an enriching environmental activity kit, which is user-friendly and easy to implement for the purpose of increasing my students’ awareness of environmental causes.”

The global Earth Prize challenges and inspires students to effect change in their communities, through active participation. Having graduated 2.5 million Palestine refugee students, the Agency provides quality education to 532,000 Palestine refugees through its 711 schools. As UNRWA continues its tradition of innovation, it is honoured to provide a platform for teachers like Ms Obeid to educate and mentor Palestine refugee students in Jordan and across the Middle East.

“Stewardship of the Earth is an increasingly important – and pressing – issue for which all global citizens need to take responsibility, including in Jordan, where the impact of climate change, particularly with regards to increased water scarcity, is clearly felt. UNRWA was, therefore, glad to partner with the Earth Foundation on the Earth Prize initiative and greatly welcomed the good news that one of our teachers, Ms Safa’ Obaid, was recognized with the prestigious Educator of the Year award. This is a true testimony of the role of UNRWA teachers in general and Ms Obaid specifically as pioneers in caring for this earth we all share. I am very proud to work with world-class teachers such as Ms Obaid and hope that her example will be an example for UNRWA teachers and students in the years to come,” said the Acting Director of the UNRWA Department of Education, Moritz Bilagher.

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