On Monday morning I began work on the campaign for the Right to Education in Palestine. This is a student led campaign which aims to raise awareness and provide peaceful opposition to the denial of the Palestinian people’s right to education under Israeli occupation. Under Israeli occupation the Palestinian population experience many infringements on their right to education, this effects both lower and higher education. The main issues which effect the students at the University of Birzeit are restrictions placed upon international travel to Palestine through the allocation of visas by Israel which affects the ability of the University to recruit international staff and students, the restrictions upon movement within Palestine which is leading to the localisation of Universities, and student prisoners and detainees.
The occupation is distorting the education system of Palestine through restrictions upon the freedom of movement both within Palestine and from abroad to Palestine. Universities rely upon the movement of academics and students in order to transfer knowledge. Universities such as the University of Birzeit in Palestine, where the campaign is based, are experiencing the recycling of knowledge within the institution which is impacting upon the quality of education that the University can deliver. Israel will only issue tourist visas of up to three months and will not issue student or working visas to internationals who wish to study or teach in Palestine.
In the past students from Gaza made up 20% of the students at the University of Birzeit today however, there are only 7 students from Gaza. This is due to the extremely tight restrictions placed upon movement by Palestinians between the West Bank and Gaza. This has led to an increase in division between the Palestinian population. Restrictions placed upon movement within the West Bank are also reducing the ability of students to attend a University away from where they live. This means that today the majority of students attending University in Birzeit are from Ramallah or the surrounding villages.
There are currently 74 students from the University of Birzeit in prison. The ability of the Israeli security to place students under arrest and hold them without charge under administrative detention severely harms the ability of many students to complete their studies. This is an issue which is hugely important to the students of the University as it frequently impacts upon them personally when either they or someone they know is arrested. Charges against student detainees normally relate to political activism and can be as simple as being a member of a student society or union.
Over the next few months I will be posting more information about the denial of the right to education for Palestinian’s living under Israeli occupation.
Find out more about the Right to Education campaign here: http://www.right2edu.org/ and here: http://r2eoutreach.wordpress.com/