Press release

UNESCO and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research Support Universities` Efforts to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Ramallah, 12 December 2019 – The representatives from Universities in Palestine met with the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Chairman of the Palestinian National Committee for Education and representatives from UNESCO on 10 and 11 December at the Caesar Hotel in Ramallah to discuss the role of Palestinian universities in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The meeting was part of a 2-day workshop facilitated by UNESCO to support universities to establish concrete actions towards achieving the SDGs.

During his opening statements, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Dr. Mahmoud Abu Mouis, stated that the outputs of universities are the inputs for development in Palestine and that education outputs need to be aligned with the needs of the labor market. The Minister encouraged universities to support Palestine in achieving all the SGDs, and not to focus exclusively on ensuring inclusive and equitable education for all.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Junaid Sorosh-Wali, Officer-in-Charge, Head of UNESCO National Office for Palestine, highlighted the challenges Palestine faces in quality education, such as qualification of teachers, updated curriculum, teacher to student ratio, admission policies, leadership, financing and scientific research including the ongoing financial crisis of universities in Gaza, and in achieving the SDG 4 which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. He further stated that in order to make a difference, both the Ministry, donors and Higher Education Institutions should work together to ensure that our future generation are gaining the knowledge and the 21st century skills that are needed for their easy access to employment. He further emphasized the importance of the collaboration between ministries since the output of the Ministry of Education is the input of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

During his presentation on SDGs and higher education, Dr. Anasse Bouhilal, Higher Education Specialist from UNESCO Regional Office for Education in Beirut, suggested actions on how universities can further support the SDGs, including the development of monitoring tools to assess their progress towards meeting the SDGs. He acknowledged that there is equal access for men and women in universities, but encouraged the universities to work on gender issues, which doesn`t entail just participation, but also leadership opportunities and equal salary.

During the event, all participants, including universities from Gaza, have been informed on the process of the revision of the Regional Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees in Higher Education in the Arab Region and the Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications. A wide-ranging discussion took place in order to solidify a concrete plan of action which can serve as a catalyst for universities in Palestine to support the achievement of the SDGs. The Universities agreed to work collaboratively in achieving SDGs, more particularly SDG4, and they will ensure alignment between the SDGs and their own strategies, including raising awareness through their faculties and students. They also expressed the necessity of the synergy between the MoE and the MoHE and requested UNESCO’s support in establishing a Higher Education Strategy and a national qualification framework to guarantee the quality of higher education and validate the certification of degrees.

 

For more information on UNESCO’s activities in Palestine, please visit us on  : UNESCO National Office for Palestine