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Source: USAID West Bank & Gaza
16 May 2005

OPT: USAID adds $7 million to its education program

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- The American people Monday donated an extra $7 million to enlarge U.S.-funded higher education and training programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

The education projects are part of a $41 million quick impact initiative that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched as a sign of America's commitment to support the newly-elected Palestinian leadership.

"These new funds will benefit institutions of higher education, students and faculty alike, giving them better access to current research and technology, "said Bassam Kort, head of USAID's Higher Education sector. "The goal is to enhance their knowledge about evolving trends in all disciplines.

"Education is crucial to the future of Palestinians," Bassam added. "We need to build Palestinian intellectual capital to meet the needs of local development and to enhance Palestinian competitiveness at the global level."

USAID developed the project elements in coordination with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, and conducted a study to assess the most crucial needs of universities and colleges.

About $1 million of the new funds will be used to expanded USAID's Local Scholarship Program to cover the tuition fees of an additional 1,500 students at technical and vocational colleges. The program seeks to respond to the demands of the local labor market by encouraging students to learn essential skills that are lacking.

Another $3.5 million will go to provide 13 technical and vocational colleges, with a total of 4,000 students, with modern equipment and supplies.
USAID also earmarked $1.5 million for the modernization of computer labs. New computers and other peripheral equipment, and upgraded software will be installed at 20 community colleges in order to improve internet access and provide state-of-the-art skills training for 5,000 students.

Libraries at 11 universities will receive $1 million to enhance student and faculty access to the latest global information in the fields of science, business and economics. Based on lists prepared by the universities and the Palestinian Universities Librarians Committee, USAID will fund the procurement of books, reference materials and subscriptions to electronic journals and data bases that provide access to thousands of periodicals, referee journals and scientific publications.

An estimated 85,000 students will directly benefit from these improved library resources.

USAID administers the U.S. foreign assistance program and provides economic and humanitarian aid in 84 countries worldwide.
Since 1993, Palestinians have received more than $1.5 billion in U.S. economic assistance via USAID projects - more than from any other donor country.

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