On Thursday 22 April 2010, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights concluded a specialized workshop entitled 'The Impact of the Israeli Siege on Higher Education in the Gaza Strip'.
More than 26 persons attended the workshop, including academics , post-graduate students, researchers and interested persons.
This workshop came as the Israeli authority continued its siege and its collective punishment imposed on the Gaza Strip which has affected all aspects of life, particularly the right to education.
This gravely violates international human rights law and article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
Alaa Mattar, researcher at Al Mezan, opened the workshop and welcomed the participants.
He talked about the right to education under international human rights law.
Mattar mentioned that the right to education is enshrined in numerous regional and international conventions and treaties such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and other sources of international human rights law.
Mattar talked about articles 13 and 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights which mainly focus on the aims of education, the nature of the education process, and the mechanisms for providing education to all people.
Mattar mentioned that the Israeli siege constitutes a clear violation of the right to education as it gravelly affects higher education in the Gaza Strip.
For their part, participants presented the experience of their institutions under the siege.
Most of their presentations agreed on the disastrous impact of the Israeli siege on higher education.
Due to the Israeli siege, higher education in the Gaza Strip failed to achieve its goals, which aim at developing human personality as well as the society.
The Israeli siege has directly and negatively affected the ability of higher education institutions to offer appropriate educational services.
The Israeli siege has affected both the external and internal funding for higher education institutions.
Outside funding for these institutions has decreased as a result of the siege and most of this funding has stopped.
The increased number of students who are unable to pay for their tuition also affected the internal financial situation of the higher education institutions.
Moreover, most of the higher education institutions are unable to reconstruct what the Israeli forces destroyed during its last aggression on the Gaza Strip.
This halts the achievement of academic and knowledge exchange between higher education institutions in the Gaza Strip and outside institutions.
It also hinders implementing new or previously signed agreements between the universities in the Gaza Strip and other universities.
The Israeli siege has prevented these institutions from exporting equipment for the laboratories, which affects scientific research.
At the end of the workshop, participants recommended the following: 1.
The international community and the high contracting parties to Geneva Convention should hold their responsibilities and exert pressure on Israel to lift the siege and collective punishment imposed on the Gaza Strip.
Israel, as an occupying authority, is bound to respect the international agreements 3.
The European Union should take effective steps under article 2 of the EU-Israeli Agreement which stipulates that the Israeli authority respect human rights.
Unify all the efforts of civil based organizations and governmental bodies to accurately specify the needs of the higher education institutions.
Call on the international community to exert pressure on Israel to provide these needs.
Dealing with the needs of the higher education institutions as basic needs and these needs are not less important than any other needs as the right to education equals the right to adequate standard of living.
Increase the allocated money for the Ministry of High Education.
The government should provide scholarships for poor student to ensure their right to high education.
Find mechanism for coordinating and communicating between the higher education institutions.
Increase the knowledge exchange between the local higher education institutions.
Allocate appropriate budget for scientific research.