As the time draws closer to the end of my internship (because of my visa restrictions I have to leave Palestine on the 6th of August), it becomes more difficult to sit down and post a cogent blog entry. Both because of the lack of time – everybody knows how hectic the last days are – but mostly because of the mixed feelings. I feel like I haven’t done enough, haven’t seen enough, haven’t learned enough – and that’s why I conclude I have to come back.
My Palestinian friends tell me I have to come back and do my Ph.D. at Birzeit University. Now that I think about it I did want to write about higher education in Palestine.
I’ve traveled a lot in the West Bank in the last couple of weeks – mainly to meet and talk to women who have participated in the workshops organized by the Women’s Affairs Technical Committee. I have been amazed both by the scope of the trainings (topics include gender, community leadership, family law, communication and public relations, networking, lobbying and advocacy, women’s rights, etc.) and by the impact they have on the participants. I have listened to and written about many incredible stories. I have met women from small villages whose only education was the workshops and yet who were able to establish and administer women’s centers in their villages, start income-generating businesses and run for local elections.
I am impressed by the genuine thirst for knowledge among the Palestinians. Many families make it an absolute priority to send their children to the best schools. Those who can afford studying abroad often go to Britain, Spain, the States, Egypt, or Jordan. However, I don’t think that those who stay in Palestine miss out on cutting edge education- the country’s main universities are highly competitive and offer internationally recognized diplomas. Students from Birzeit, An Najah and Al Quds universities speak impeccable English and can successfully compete in the international job market. The impeccable English part used to make me so jealous, I have to confess. As I found out later, it comes as no surprise as most of the courses are offered in the English language and taught by native speakers (the luxury I never had at my university in Belarus).
However, education in Palestinian universities has a somewhat high price that not everybody can afford to pay. This fact makes the sincere desire of educated Palestinians to transfer knowledge through various projects and free trainings to their countrymen and women even more praiseworthy.
I was talking to a friend of mine and she told me that the yearning for education comes from the insecurity Palestinians feel all the time. The fear to be evicted from their homes and their land any day, the fear of not ever having their own country drives Palestinians to the conclusion that good education and excellent command of the English language are among the few things that are stable in this country and that can prove indispensable whether you are in Palestine or outside
Posted By Tatsiana Hulko
Posted Aug 2nd, 2007