The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the German government Tuesday inaugurated seven new classrooms in the Talitha Kumi co-educational secondary school in Beit Jala near Bethlehem, said a press release by the UNDP. The project, which is part of the Poverty Oriented Employment Generation Program, was funded by the government of Germany via its Development Bank KfW, and implemented by UNDP’s Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People. The project, with a budget of €120,000, included the construction of an additional floor with a total area of 420 square meters consisting of seven classrooms that will serve 195 students (110 female and 85 male), as well as a staircase, added the press release. Among the guests of the official ceremony were Mr. Götz Lingenthal, Head of the German Representative Office Ramallah, Mr. Marc Engelhardt, Head of the KfW Office Ramallah/Al Bireh, Ms. Silvia Paschke, KfW Regional Manager of the Middle East, Mr. Sami Mruwwah, Director of Education in the Bethlehem District, and Mr. Frode Mauring, UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator. Head of the German Representative Office Ramallah, Götz Lingenthal, during the inauguration ceremony, said that Talitha Kumi School is a German-Palestinian “joint venture” and a truly special school which – inspite of sometimes difficult conditions – has become a role model for inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue. Head of the KfW Office in Ramallah, Marc Engelhardt, added, “This project is another example of how short-term employment generation effects can be combined with a social infrastructure that provides long-term impact on the improvement of people’s living conditions.” Special Representative of UNDP, Frode Maurin, reminded of the importance of education as the gateway for economic growth, human development and a better future, noting the long-standing relationship between UNDP and the government of Germany. “This project provides you with new classrooms. It is up to each one of you to make the most of your education and the opportunities given to you by the school,” Maurin added. Since 2002, through UNDP’s Poverty Oriented Employment Generation Program, more than 600 projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip worth over €83.4 million were supported. The program worked on various social and economic infrastructure investments based on specific needs, as well as education; hundreds of classrooms including support facilities such as labs, libraries and halls have been constructed in over 70 schools and other educational institutions. The program work thereby alleviated overcrowding in classrooms and reduced double shifts, laying the foundation for further enhancing the quality of education.