Question of Palestine home
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
31 March 1992
United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization
Hundred and thirty-ninth Session
PARIS, 31 March 1992
Item 4.3.1 of the provisional agenda
Application of 26 C/Resolution 16
concerning educational and cultural institutions
in the occupied Arab territories
In this document the Director-General reports to the Executive Board on the measures he has taken to give effect to 137 EX/Decision 5.2.1 and to 26 C/Resolution 16. He also informs the Board of communications addressed to him since the 137th session on the subject of educational and cultural institutions in the occupied Arab territories since the 137th session up to 3 March 1992.
1. Following consideration at its 137th session of the Director-General’s report on ‘Application of 25 C/Resolution 20 concerning educational and cultural institutions in the occupied Arab territories’ (137 EX/6 and Addendum) the Executive Board decided (137 EX/Decision 5.2.1) to place this question on the agenda of its 139th session. This document reports on developments that have taken place since the 137th session, including the adoption by the General Conference of 26 C/Resolution 16.
26 C/Resolution 16
2. On the basis of document 26 C/17 submitted to it by the Director-General, the General Conference at its twenty-sixth session adopted resolution 16, in which it invited the Director-General, in paragraph 6:
‘(a) to assist in the development of the Palestinian Open University (Al-Quds);
(b) to send his personal representative on a mission to examine the educational consequences of the protracted closure of secondary and other schools in occupied Palestinian territory and to propose remedial measures;
(c) to grant assistance for the development of the Palestinian curriculum and to appeal to the international community to participate in the implementation of this project already recommended by the Executive Board (at its 135th session, in October 1990)'.
3. By a letter dated 6 February 1992 the Director-General communicated to the Ambassador Permanent Delegate of Israel the text of 26 C/Resolution 16, drawing his attention in particular to its operative paragraph 6(b) above and seeking his co-operation to secure authorization from the Israeli Government for a mission of his personal representative to take place under the conditions specified by UNESCO’s governing bodies.
4. In a reply dated 3 March 1992 the Ambassador Permanent Delegate of Israel indicated that his government was not able to facilitate the mission of the Director-General’s personal representative to the occupied territories. Such a mission, he affirmed, could have no point since 26 C/Resolution 16 in application of which it would take place asserted as fact what it should have been the mission’s purpose to ascertain.
5. In a latter dated 4 December 1991 the Permanent Observer of Palestine to UNESCO forwarded to the Director-General a letter sent to him by the exiled President of Bir Zeit University, Mr Hana Nasir, concerning the extension of the closure of Bir Zeit University, by military order, for a further period of three months.
6. In a letter dated 24 February 1992 the Director-General informed the Permanent Observer of Palestine that he had drawn the attention of the Ambassador Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO to the measure in question, asking him to intercede with the authorities of his country so that all necessary steps were taken to ensure the normal operation of all institutions of higher education.
7. By a letter dated 9 December 1991 Dr G.A. Baramki, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the ‘Peace Programme: Palestine and European Universities Together’ (PEACE) also expressed to the Director-General his ‘great concern about the renewal, of the closure of Bir Zeit University for a further three-month period’ and appealed to UNESCO to ‘take all measures within its power to ensure that all Palestinian universities and institutions of higher education are opened and that they remain open’.
8. By a letter of 6 February 1992 the Director-General assured Dr Baramki that he would bring the contents of his letter to the attention of the Israeli authorities with a view to securing the reopening of Bir Zeit University, thereby enabling the Palestinian students to pursue their studies.
9. On. 10 February 1992 the Director-General informed the Ambassador Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO of the contents of the aforementioned communication. He pointed out that, as it appeared, ‘the situation concerning higher education in the occupied Arab territories has not improved despite current initiatives for the establishment of peace in this region of the world’, and he called on the Israeli Government to make every effort to ensure improvement of the situation of the Palestinian universities.
10. In his letters of 25 February and 3 March 1992 the Ambassador Permanent Delegate of Israel replied that educational institutions in the occupied territories were subject to closure only when used as springboards for acts of violence. All schools and universities were currently open: while the campus of the University of Bir Zeit remained closed, the university itself was continuing to provide education on other premises, without interference from the Israeli authorities. The Government of Israel - the founding power of the six Palestinian universities - has always pursued a policy of encouraging education; and it was notable that, despite the situation in the region, some one thousand students had graduated from the University of Bir Zeit over the last four years.
11. In a letter dated 9 January 1992 Dr Abdul Aziz Bin Othman Al-Twaijiri, Director- General of ISESCO, informed the Director-General that the Council for Higher Education in the occupied Arab territories had decided to designate 7 January ‘Solidarity Day with Bir Zeit University’, the university having been closed by the Israeli authorities for four years.
12. The Director-General informed Dr Al-Twaijiri of the approaches he had already made to the Israeli authorities asking them to do everything necessary to ensure the reopening of Bir Zeit University, and of the reply from the Israeli authorities.
13. In a situation report for November 1991 the Director of the UNRWA/UNESCO Department of Education indicated that the education programme ran normally during the reporting period but that there were some exceptions to ordinary operation, with losses of school days amounting to some 14.5 per cent and 11.8 per cent in the West Bank and Gaza respectively. The report further indicated that the cumulative number of school days lost in agency schools in the above territories during the period September-November 1991 amounted to 17.2 per cent and 14 per cent for the West Bank and Gaza respectively, the three major causes being general strikes, curfew and closure by military order.
14. In a letter addressed to the Director-General on 24 December 1991 Professor V. Grementieri, Secretary-General of the Steering Committee of the PEACE
programme, reported on the results of the first meeting of the said Committee, held in Paris on 5 December in UNESCO House. Having defined the general goals of the PEACE programme, Mr Grementieri identified as follows the three focuses of its action:
- financial support to universities which jointly organize higher education projects involving Palestinian universities and European universities under the auspices of the programme.
Mobility grants for teachers and students
- designed to support two-way mobility between Palestinian and European universities.
- short courses of study for five European and five Palestinian teachers and for 25 Palestinian students from the six universities.
15. Stating that the overall budget for the first year is estimated by the Committee at US $250,000, Mr Grementieri asked the Director-General to confirm UNESCO’s support for the PEACE programme and submitted a formal request for a financial contribution from the Organization.
16. In his letter of 28 February 1992 to Professor Valerio Grementieri the Director-General confirmed UNESCO’s support for the programme, whose aims were in keeping with the resolutions of the General Conference concerning educational and cultural institutions in the occupied Arab territories and illustrated the kind of contribution the international academic community could make to current efforts to promote peace in the Middle East. The Organization’s support for the PEACE programme could be channelled through the UNITWIN project.
Development of Palestinian curriculum
17. On the basis of the conclusions of a seminar in August 1990, financed under the Participation Programme, a project document for the establishment of a centre for the development of a Palestinian curriculum was elaborated for presentation to potential donors. While consultations with certain multilateral funding sources have not been conclusive, the Secretariat is pursuing its efforts with regional and national funding agencies to secure the necessary finance for the implementation of the project. Believing that the centre in question represents an area of priority need and could contribute also to the effective implementation of recommendations 4 and 5 of document 132 EX/12, the Director-General hopes that donors will be forthcoming to assist in the realization of this vital project.
18. The Director-General furthermore intends to launch an appeal to the international community to this end in conformity with the aforementioned paragraph 6(c) of 26 C/Resolution 16, inviting him '... to appeal to the international community to participate in the implementation of this project’.
The scholarship fund
19. The Director-General reported to the Executive Board at its 137th session the generous donation made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia amounting to US $300,000. No further pledges in contributions have been received from other donors.
Palestinian European Academic Co-operation in Education.