Palestine Youth Portal

www.shababgate.ps
Funded by
USAID
Undertaken in coordination with
U.S.-Palestinian Partnership (UPP), Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS), Palestinian Information Technology Association of Companies (PITA), Ruwwad

 

The Palestine Youth Portal (PYP) is an online gateway for Palestinian youth to connect with each other and the world. It allows young people men and women in the West Bank, ages 15 to 30, to access digital libraries, online communities, English-as-a-Second-Language training materials, and a wealth of other digital resources. Online education, self-actualization/empowerment, employment support are key outcomes expected. The PYP also serves as an online system enabling youth to design projects to document their lives and  business/entrepreneurial projects.

Youth members of the PYP collaborate through moderated discussions, blogs, and personal web pages build using portal tools. Future enhancements include a job search function will give users access to local employment opportunities.

“After an initial assessment in July 2008, it was clear there was a strong need for a comprehensive, multifunctional online portal to support youth-development in the Palestinian territories,” says Robert Schware, GLP Managing Director.

“By partnering with PITA and other stakeholders, we were able to design a networking solution that will enable Youth Development Resource Centers to manage their organization and also provide an area for the youth to access and share information.”

GLP conducted a competitive bidding and selected InterTech, an I.T. solutions company based in the West Bank, to develop the portal, seed it with content, and deliver training to youth members and I.T. coordinators at the Youth Development Resource Centers.

Voices from the Field

“We have a responsibility – all of us – to provide young people with opportunities for knowledge.” Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Musa Abu Zaid

With an open source platform, “you don’t have to pay expensive licensing fees, and you can share the knowledge gained in product development. In this way, It is very cost effective.” Ala Alaeddin, manager of Intertech, the Palestinian company developing the PYP

“All of us worked together to develop this portal system.” Deyya Jarrar, PYP Youth Trainer

Lessons Learned
  • Technical Collaboration: Frequent joint work sessions between technical developers at the headquarters and in the field were key to moving portal development ahead and resolving problems in a timely way. Videoconferencing and screen-sharing applications helped, as well as flexibility in scheduling to accommodate for the time zone differences.

  • In-Depth Understanding of Users: It is necessary to develop a very thorough understanding of the user group – their needs, constraints (including physical and time), their core skills, etcetera.

  • Training Preparation: When preparing to train future portal administrators and managers on a web portal, it is necessary to script and practice the training sessions ahead of time to ensure they run smoothly. This is especially important when participant travel is logistically complicated and the time available for training is limited.

  • Training Must Be Responsive to User’s Skill Levels: With highly web-fluent youth, more advanced training topics could be covered, such as good practices in web style and the best ways of preparing graphics for online distribution.

  • Administrative Permissions and Access: With a web site that features decentralized content uploading, care must be taken to plan the levels of administrative access and to establish clear workflows to govern the management of content. The GLP technical team worked with InterTech to explore use cases and define a series set of youth manager roles for administration of content, member access, and discussion moderation.

  • Content Gathering and Management: Roles and responsibilities for content gathering and uploading must be clearly defined. How much content do we need initially? Who will gather and upload it? How will we know when we have enough? Who decides what will be added to the site? These are all questions implementing partners must ask themselves when seeding a portal initially and then guiding its growth.