PRESS RELEASE: Palestine solar energy course for refugees wins best project in Green Skills Award 2021

The story of Ghada Krayem, a young female Palestinian refugee who received vocational training on solar photovoltaic systems in Gaza won the ETF's first Green Skills Award. Turkey and India came second and third respectively

Turin, 25 June 2021 — Thousands of citizens from all over the world have expressed their preference for the entry of 20-year-old Ghada Zaki Krayem, a young student at the Gaza Training Centre, as best practice in teaching and learning of green skills. Her story highlights the need to tackle both inequality and climate change at the same time through an innovative scheme to train young people as solar power technicians. This scheme emerged as the winner out of 11 finalists selected from 134 applications from 39 countries.

Turkish teacher Selcuk Arslan, from the Ataturk Vocational and technical high-school, and India’s PSS Central institute of vocational education in Bhopal, were runners up in terms of preferences from the public. They are further examples of skills development empowering the green transition. The three winners were unveiled today during an online event organised by the ETF jointly with UNESCO, with the collaboration of EBRD, ILO and UNICEF, entitled ‘Building lifelong learning systems: skills for green and inclusive societies in the digital era’ (21-25 June 2021).

“The first edition of the ETF Green Skills Award confirmed that sustainable education is close to the heart of citizens, with more than 23,000 from all over the world voting for their favourite project. In the end they are all winners, but the Gaza Training Centre and its student Ghada Kraynem from Palestine, captured the imagination of many with its double goal to tackle inclusion and climate change. My congratulations go to Ghada and to all parties involved in this project. And congratulations as well to the runners up, Selcuk Arslan from the Ataturk  Vocational and technical high-school in Turkey and the PSS Central institute of vocational education in India, and to all finalists and applicants for their engagement and innovative stories”, said ETF Director, Cesare Onestini.

Palestine’s ray of light

Designed to help reduce reliance on external sources of energy, the project aims to harvest the natural power of the sun over Gaza to produce electricity for local use. It is run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) with the backing of Germany's overseas aid organisation GIZ.

"When I thought about where I want to be in four years, I imagined myself as an entrepreneur. I needed an in-demand specialty and searched for a field of study that would stave off unemployment”, said ETF Green Skills Award winner Ghada Zaki Krayem.

“The installation and maintenance of solar photovoltaic systems training was provided to 98 vulnerable Palestinian refugees, including 27 women. This offered an opportunity for boosting the ability to employ the skills they learned, and for increasing livelihood opportunities and securing income within a context of overwhelming poverty and unemployed", added Mohammed Al-Egha, Technical support projects coordinator, Education Programme, at UNRWA's Gaza Field Office.

In addition to the core trainees, the scheme provides TVET trainers with training to enhance their capacity to deliver the course and also provides elements of training in the field to a further 120 students on a range of technical courses, allowing topics related to photovoltaic installation to be incorporated in their courses. Following the one-year training, the solar technician trainers were provided with paid apprenticeships in local companies in the field.

Turkey and India as second and third most voted projects

Turkey’s teacher Selcuk Arslan, from the Ataturk Vocational and technical high-school, and India’s PSS Central institute of vocational education in Bhopal, just followed in terms of preferences.

  • Selcuk Arslan, from the Ataturk Vocational and technical high-school emerged for raising awareness on the impact of online learning on the environment. During the pandemic period, they’ve organised online activities with students on the theme of synchronous and asynchronous environment. Thanks to these studies, students could learn coding and gain environmental awareness.
  • India’s PSS Central institute of vocational education in Bhopal proved to be outstanding in introducing green skills into the curricula. For grades 9 to 12, the institute promoted the inclusion of green skills as a key component of employability skills. The initiative covers 10,893 schools, and supports students in preparing with the skill-set required for green occupations in the future

All finalists

Finalists included stories from the following countries:

  • Albania, Shipmentt - Greening of existing professions in the maritime sector;
  • Azerbaijan, Inkoel - Public-private partnerships for enhancing the green skills in the energy industry;
  • Belarus, Volma - Equipping trainers with up-to-date knowledge on green technologies;
  • France (Belgium), Label Emmaus - Preparing vulnerable groups for a new green profession;
  • India, PSS Central Institute of Vocational Education - Schools introducing green skills into their curricula;
  • Italy, Atelier Riforma - Greening of the textile and fashion industry through new curricula;
  • Palestine, Ghada Krayem - Vocational education centre offering green energy curricula for refugees in Gaza;
  • The Netherlands (with the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Romania and Spain), European Platform Urban Greening - International public-private partnership for innovating curricula with green skills;
  • Turkey, Selcuk Arslan, Ataturk Vocational and Technical High School - Raising awareness on the impact of online learning on the environment;
  • Ukraine, Emau - Greening of existing professions in the building management sector;
  • Ukraine, Professional Qualifications in Energy Efficiency Project - Skilling students on energy efficiency at all stages of education.

The description of their proposals can be found here:


The European Training Foundation is the EU agency supporting the countries of the EU neighbourhood to reform their education, training and labour market systems. It works with policymakers and practitioners to support reform, promote evidence-based approaches, document change, provide analysis and stimulate debate to anticipate new skills needs. In line with the EU Green Deal, the drive towards clean, carbon neutral, circular economies and societies also shapes EU external assistance to the countries of the neighbourhood. 

More information   

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