Palestinian Universities Under Occupation

Roughly a decade has passed since Palestinians in the occupied territories opened the doors of their own universities, in response to the difficulties Palestinian students faced in seeking higher education abroad and to the increased demand for higher education among the population. Although some were high schools or junior colleges before 1975, the seven major institutions of higher education in the West Bank and Gaza have at most had ten years to develop as four-year institutions, including developing curriculum, hiring staff, building new facilities and even new campuses, setting up laboratories, developing libraries, and installing computer and other administrative facilities necessary for a university. These challenges have been compounded by the almost overwhelming problems posed by the Israeli military occupation, which has set up obstacles to the most ordinary academic tasks, in addition to its more visible practices of military-ordered closures and individual harassments of students and faculty.

Penny Johnson is Assistant to the Public Relations Director, Birzeit University. 

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