United Nations Agencies: Education in Palestine must be a priority
23 January 2023
On 24 January, we celebrate the International Day of Education and the role of education in peace and development. Research has demonstrated throughout the years that education increases communication skills, empathy and tolerance and decreases poverty, the latter being a key driver of conflict.
In 2023, we face ever- growing crises worldwide, including the climate emergency and widening inequalities, which threaten to halt or even reverse progress made on the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG4; Quality and Inclusive Education for all. We cannot afford to lose the progress already made; we must build on that progress both in Palestine and around the world as a key part of attaining the 2030 Agenda which is fast closing in.
Despite global hardships and the unique challenges faced by Palestinian boys and girls due to the prolonged occupation, ongoing conflict and internal divisions, the literacy rate now stands at 97.7%. To further improve access to education, Palestine is digitalizing the education system, a priority in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this effort, the Palestine Educational TV Channel was inaugurated in late 2022 by the Ministry of Education and over 70 schools in the West Bank were connected to the internet with the support of partners, which is improving distance learning for the most marginalized children.
In May 2022, at the regional “Learning to Earning” Summit in Amman, the Palestinian delegation pledged to implement concrete actions to bridge the gap between education and decent work for Palestinian youth, who continue to face high levels of unemployment. These include a youth volunteer service, the development of a coding academy, and the introduction of a helpdesk for young entrepreneurs. At the Transforming Education Summit in New York last September, Palestine affirmed its commitment to generate a shift “from teaching to learning” to equip students with skills needed for life and work, accelerate the digital transformation and upgrade the status of teachers.
The United Nations is working with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Education and other stakeholders to make the education system “future ready” to meet the aspirations of all children and youth in Palestine. On the eve of the official launch of the 2023-2025 United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, a partnership between the UN and the Government to achieve the 2030 Agenda, the UN remains more committed than ever to redouble joint efforts to increase access to inclusive, quality education, including affordable and gender responsive vocational training, and tertiary education opportunities. The focus will be on improved quality of learning outcomes and the socioeconomic, gender and geographic disparities in educational achievement. The UN will support efforts to create a safer and more inclusive learning environment, in which boys, girls, young men and women are provided with the skills needed to cope with life challenges and to better align with market needs.
There is reason for optimism, but to protect the gains made and go further, all Governments must stand by their commitments to prioritize education, and substantial international and national investment in education is required. The UN in Palestine is committed to working alongside education actors to translate this goal into reality.