In the Gaza Strip, movement restrictions imposed by Israel following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas in June 2007 have severely undermined the living conditions of residents and isolated the Gaza population from the outside world. The on-going blockade has caused immense damage to the Gaza Strips’ economy, and as a consequence Gaza has currently the highest unemployment rate in the world which – according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (2017) – has soared to 43.6%, a number rising to 44.6% among young adult (20-24 years).
Knowing that 49,6% of the Gaza Strip population is under 18 years old, an investment in youth including both efficient protection services and adequate education opportunities, including digital knowledge, vocational skills and creativity, is urgently needed. Currently, those opportunities are highly constricted in Gaza, and youth lack any meaningful prospects for professional growth. The Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector remains one of the only promising job market in Gaza due to the possibility it offers to access the entire world. The access to this limitless digital market is of special interest in the case of a physically isolated location such as Gaza. Moreover, data already indicate that Information Technology (IT) programmers in Gaza are exceptionally talented.
Vulnerable and marginalized children, youth and young adults (12-24 years old), mainly victims of child labor, drop-out school children, and children at risk of being in contact with the law.
after just three months of creative work, students from 15 secondary schools and professional lyceums of Luhansk Region also presented their prototypes at the Youth Family Festival. Youngsters developed agricultural technology models, mazes for logic development, and even the prototype of a quadcopter. Participation in the Festival has enabled young people to develop and strengthen engineering skills and increased their chances to find a job in this field in the future.
Goals and outcomes
The fab lab in Gaza is furnished and equipped with laptops, a 3D printer, a digital sewing machine, arduino boards, a 2.5D pen plotter and a small cutting machine along with several electronics and consumables. All targeted children and youth benefited from training sessions that covered different areas such as basic electronics, programming arduino boards, using the digital sewing machine, and using designing software such as Inkscape with its extensions like Ink/Stitch that allow for the creation of embroidery designs.
A total of 154 children and youth (85 boys, 69 girls) have participated in the Fab Lab programming and their education and vocational skills have been significantly enhanced. All children have received on average 20 training sessions, with particular focus on programming arduino boards in order to help children to program and implement their ideas. An idea contest was organized from which 15 projects were selected to be developed and implemented by the Fab Lab beneficiaries; examples of such projects are a LED lamp, remote controlled curtains, a remote controlled car, a fire alarm, a hanging lamp, smart home remote control, a Bluetooth controlled car, distance measurement device and a self-driving car enhanced with obstacle avoidance.
A total of 150 children have received structured psychosocial support services. On average, each child has received 10 sessions covering life skills, stress management, healthy ways of venting stress and frustrations. A youth led committee was established consisting of 15 youth. The committee had been playing a vital role in promoting and advocating Fab Lab.