Training center in Ramallah now serves students of all ages

Students at Sisterhood Academy learn culinary arts. Photo/AFEDJ

American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem

The Episcopal Technological and Vocational Training Center (ETVTC) in Ramallah, West Bank has expanded its training opportunities to adults, extending its original mission of offering vocational training to Palestinian high school-age students.

General Director Giovanni Anbar, who began the school in 2000, saw in the last five years the need for programs for adults who struggle to find good-paying jobs amid the political and economic challenges of the West Bank. The center is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

Adults are offered certificate programs approved by the Ministry of Labor in culinary arts and mobile apps, including programs specifically designed for women entrepreneurs and incarcerated men.  

Sisterhood Academy

In October 2022, the center welcomed its third class of 36 women to the Sisterhood Academy, a six-month culinary arts and small-business training program for Palestinian women. For the first time, due to demand for the program, ETVTC offered two classes – one for women from Ramallah and surrounding villages and one from the northern West Bank city of Nablus. They will graduate from the program in May 2023.

One student is Ahlam Hamid, a 42-year old mother of six children. Prior to enrolling in the Sisterhood Academy, Hamid started her own home-based business called “Maria’s Kitchen,” offering home-made food and desserts for sale in her local community. After some time of working and cooking at home, she decided to join the center’s course to acquire the knowledge and practical skills to increase her business’s success.

In addition to the Sisterhood Academy, each year the center offers a ten month culinary arts program for men and women.

Mobile Application Program

Anmar Samour, a recent graduate of Palestine Technical University, enrolled in the center’s Mobile App Program to enhance her knowledge and to create her own application, an electronic library on Android. Samour’s main goal after successfully completing the course is to work for a tech company to gain more experience and then work as a freelancer.

Prisoner Culinary Arts Program

In the fall of 2022, after a two-year hiatus because of COVID, the center resumed its partnership with the Palestinian Authority to offer a 60-hour course to prisoners at the Reform and Rehabilitation Center in Ramallah. In December 2022, 12 men received a certificate in culinary arts and occupational safety to prepare them for the labor market upon their release.

Anbar said he was recently approached by a man working in a local restaurant. Because only instructors are allowed in the prison, Anbar didn’t recognize him but the man introduced himself as a graduate of the prisoner program and thanked him. “How gratifying to know that we have helped him create a new and productive life. It has big ripples throughout the community,” Anbar said.

Training for high school students

Vocational training for Palestinian secondary school students takes place along two diploma tracks: hospitality/culinary arts or information technology. Upon graduation, 94 percent of students on average move to full-time employment or go on to additional vocational training, or university studies.

American supporters of the center fund scholarships, equipment purchases and on-the-job training. Follow us on social media

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