Question of Palestine home
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
27 August 1993
United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization
Hundred and forty-second Session
PARIS, 27 August 1993
Item 5.3.1 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 141 EX/Decision 5.2.1 and to 26 C/Resolution 16. He also informs the Board of communications addressed to him since the 141st session on the subject of educational and cultural institutions in the occupied Arab territories since the 141st session up to 21 July 1993.
1. Following consideration at its 141st session of the Director-General’s report on the application of 26 C/Resolution 16 concerning educational and cultural institutions in the occupied Arab territories (141 EX/8 and Addendum), the Executive Board decided (141 EX/Decision 5.2.1, para. 10) to place this question on the agenda of its 142nd session. In its decision, the Executive Board expressed satisfaction at the resumption of peace negotiations in the Middle East, in the hope that a just, global and lasting peace may be achieved as swiftly as possible to the problems of the region; expressed its deep concern over the situation in educational and cultural institutions in the occupied Syrian Golan; strongly deplored the loss of many days of schooling in the occupied Arab territories owing to the closure of schools and universities by military order or by curfews, etc.; and urged that the Director-General’s personal representative be allowed to accomplish his mission in the occupied Arab territories as soon as possible. In paragraph 9, the Executive Board invited the Director-General:
(a) to provide, in UNESCO’s fields of competence, the necessary assistance to educational establishments to preserve Syrian cultural identity and for the granting of scholarships to Golan students;
(b) to continue his efforts with a view to the unhindered functioning of schools, universities and cultural institutions throughout the territories;
(c) to conduct a study to assess academic standards in Palestinian universities in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip;
(d) to continue his efforts to provide, in UNESCO’s fields of competence, the necessary assistance to schools in order to preserve the cultural identity of the populations concerned.
2. This document reports on developments that have taken place since the 141st session. It should be noted that an addendum to the document will be prepared shortly before the session itself, to cover developments occurring during the interim period.
EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS
3. In a letter dated 15 June 1993, the deputy permanent delegate of Jordan to UNESCO transmitted to the Director-General an appeal adopted on 23 May 1993 by the participants in the seventh Consultancy Meeting of the Educational Innovation Programme for Development in the Arab States (EIPDAS), which was held in Amman, Jordan (17-19 May 1993). The appeal was for the Director-General’s help in abolishing the ‘occupied territories closure’ with specific reference to the assertion that ‘the Israeli authorities have closed holy Jerusalem and forced pupils not to go to their schools whereby the educational situation has deteriorated and led to the increase of illiterate people in the occupied territories’.
4. By a note verbale dated 24 June 1993, the Ambassador, permanent delegate of the Syrian Arab Republic to UNESCO asked the Director-General to inform the delegation 'of the steps he intended to take to implement the decision of the Executive Board adopted at its 141st session, the purpose of which is the implementation of 26 C/Resolution 16 concerning educational and cultural institutions in the occupied Arab territories, and particularly the
paragraphs concerning the Syrian Golan (141 EX/Decision 5.2.1, paras. 7, 9(a), (b), (d) and 10'.
5. In a letter dated 26 June 1993, Mr Naim Abu Hommos, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Council for Higher Education, informed the Director-General that the Council is in need of an ‘emergency assistance fund for Palestinian universities’ for the purpose of raising ‘$20 million necessary to prevent the collapse of the higher education system’ in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Mr. Abu Hommos drew the Director-General’s attention to his meeting with the Council on 17 March 1993 in Jerusalem, in which ‘we spoke about the possibility that UNESCO can ask the Member States to help the Palestinian universities. It would be an important gesture if the first assistance comes from UNESCO.’ To deal with the deficit, which was reported at $20 million or 75 per cent of the universities’ total budget, Mr. Abu Hommos stated that the Council and the universities had decided to take several steps, including:
(a) closing a small part of the deficit through withdrawing the retirement funds of the university employees;
(b) paying only 50 per cent of salaries, while registering the rest as a debt owed by the university (Mr Abu Hommos stated that ‘this move has resulted in a great instability, because the universities are unable to pay even the 50 per cent which they decided they would pay’);
(c) making cuts in the amount allocated for services.
6. It should be noted that as of the end of June 1993, no pledges or funds have been received at the Secretariat in response to the Director-General’s appeal of 22 January 1993 to Member States, international organizations and Islamic funding sources, for voluntary contributions in order to make good the deficit of the operating budget of the Palestinian universities.
7. In his report of 6 July 1993 on the closure of schools and training centres, the Deputy Director of the UNRWA/UNESCO Department of Education provided the following information:
(a) As a result of the sealing off of Gaza and the West Bank by the Israeli authorities on 29 March and 30 March 1993 respectively, agency schools in Jerusalem and Jericho have been adversely affected. Teachers living in Ramallah and the southern part of the West Bank could not travel to Jerusalem and through Jerusalem to reach their schools. Some teachers managed to obtain permits to enable them to report to schools while others were assigned to schools in their areas. The Ramallah Men’s Training Centre and the Kalandia Training Centre in the West Bank could not operate until 8 May 1993 due to the fact that some of their instructors reside in the southern area of the West Bank and more than 50 per cent of their trainees come from Gaza. On 8 May 1993, trade courses at Kalandia and semi-professional courses at the Ramallah Men’s Centre resumed, although semi-professional courses at Kalandia and teaching-training courses at the Ramallah Men’s Centre continued to be seriously affected. In June 1993, the agency was able to obtain permits for most but not all of the Gaza trainees; those for whom permits were obtained were able to resume their training.
(b) The school year 1992/1993 in both the West Bank and Gaza was completed on 30 May 1993 with lost school days amounting to 14.8 per cent and 16.4 per cent respectively. The predominant causes of lost days were general strikes in the West Bank and curfews in Gaza. As of July 1993, summer activities are under implementation in both fields with the aim of compensating partially for lost school time.
(c) At the end of May 1993, all four training centres were still affected by closures resulting from curfews, general strikes, military closure orders, and the sealing off of the occupied territories. For the 1992/1993 academic year, lost days at the Gaza Training Centre totalled 44.2 per cent. In the West Bank, lost days totalled 53.3 per cent for the Kalandia Training Centre; 37.9 per cent for the Ramallah Men’s Training Centre; and 16.2 per cent for the Ramallah Women’s Training Centre.
8. On 8 July 1993, the Secretariat allotted a $50,000 grant-in-aid to the Palestinian Council of Higher Education for the purpose of establishing temporary liaison offices for Palestinian universities and colleges in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. At these offices, students who could not travel to the educational institutions concerned because of the sealing off of the occupied territories will be able to register for the 1993/1994 academic year. This grant was made in response to a request to the Director-General made on 27 April 1993 by Mr Naim Abu Hommos, Secretary-General of the Council.
9. In a letter dated 15 July 1993, the Director-General communicated to the Ambassador, permanent delegate of Israel to UNESCO, the text of 141 EX/Decision 5.2.1, indicating that he was seeking the co-operation of the permanent delegate and of his government to give effect to decision 5.2.1 as well as to previous decisions and resolutions of the Executive Board and the General Conference. The Director-General drew particular attention to the issues of the unhindered functioning of the schools, universities and cultural institutions throughout the territories and of the mission of his personal representative.