LWF Jerusalem centralizes its vocational training in Ramallah

Bishop Ibrahim Azar of ELCJHL and LWF Country representative Sieglinde Weinbrenner shake hands after signing the MOU. Photo: LWF Jerusalem

Local church school building is converted into a training center

(LWI) - The new Lutheran World Federation (LWF) vocational training center in Ramallah, Palestine, is about to take shape: On Sunday, 1 March Bishop Sani Ibrahim Azar of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ECJHL) and Sieglinde Weinbrenner, LWF Representative in Jerusalem, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to convert the old School of Hope into a new LWF vocational training center in Ramallah.

The building had been empty since the ELCJHL institution moved to new premises three years ago. “As Lutherans we are one and we are grateful for the work of LWF,” says Bishop Azar.

Decentralized and difficult to access

Up to now, the LWF vocational training center in Ramallah operated out of several premises spread around the town. Its current premises are not easily accessible to people with special needs.  Moreover, given that the premises are rented on a commercial basis, it was difficult for the LWF to undertake the necessary upgrading to make them more accessible.

Weinbrenner hopes to be able to centralize and expand the services offered by LWF Jerusalem through the new location. “The conversion of the old School of Hope into an innovative and inclusive vocational training center will be a significant boost to the program and its capacities to have a greater impact across Palestine,” she says. Given the current timetable, the LWF vocational training program can fully move into the new premises by the end of 2020 and be operational in 2021.

Gender responsive approach

Vocational training is one of the key activities of the LWF Jerusalem program. The Palestinian population is one of the youngest in the world, but the educational setup leaves behind many young people without relevant training for gainful employment. The vocational training centers target Palestinian youth with limited opportunities due to precarious economic and social backgrounds and disabilities. The center in Ramallah targets youth from the West Bank specifically.

In the last decade, the LWF has worked explicitly and intentionally to increase the number of female students and female graduates in the training program. This has gone hand in hand with efforts to increase the number of professions accessible to women in the local market. LWF’s gender responsive approach will be further reinforced in the current 2019 – 2024 strategy period. Through the identification of new courses and vocations that are market-relevant, LWF Jerusalem aims to reach an additional 1,700 young women and empower them to access gainful employment.

The LWF Vocational Training Centers in Beit Hanina and Ramallah serve 2,816 young people from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. In 2018, a majority of the graduates-- 93 percent-- were employed or self-employed six months after finishing their training, compared to a 56 percent employment rate among all youth in Palestine.