Support to vulnerable students and Higher Education Institutions
UNESCO has provided significant support to the well-developed higher education sector in Palestine. Activities have focused on mitigating the impact of the deteriorating socio-economic situation and the protracted conflict on access to higher education and its quality. UNESCO has supported access to higher education in Gaza through the provision of fee waiver grants for some of the most vulnerable students, which was also instrumental in keeping the universities running after the operation Cast Lead. UNESCO also addressed the quality of teaching and research through support to the reconstruction of scientific laboratories as well as the replacement of other technical learning and teaching materials that were lost during Cast Lead, and which were highly difficult to replace owing to the ongoing blockade. These activities were implemented with financial support of Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser of Qatar and the Islamic Development Bank.
In addition, in the framework of the EU-funded QSQT programme UNESCO supported 22 PhD students in teacher education to pursue their studies abroad. These were key individuals selected with respect to their professional and academic background, and specifically their involvement in design and implementation of teacher policies. Moreover, with financial support from the Saudi Committee for the Relief of Palestinian People, UNESCO recently initiated support to vulnerable students through a new initiative which will focus on expanding access to resources materials and books through libraries and on developing a right to education advocacy strategy.
UNESCO also supports higher education and research institutions to contribute to the advancement of UNESCO’s programme and goals on a culture of peace and non-violence, as well as teaching, learning and research that supports the development of sustainable knowledge societies. For instance, the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme provides a platform for global governance of knowledge production, dissemination and application. In Palestine, over the past years, a UNESCO Chair on Human Rights, Democracy and Peace was established in 1997 at An Najah National University, a UNESCO Chair in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in 2006 at Birzeit University and a UNESCO Chair in Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the Islamic University in Gaza in 2012.