Policy recommendation for higher education institution programmes in Palestine
As the only UN agency with a mandate to support national capacity building in higher education, UNESCO supported the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research with higher education policy and planning, to achieve target 4.3 of Sustainable Development Goal 4 ensuring equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university. UNESCO supported the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in providing policy recommendations for higher education institutions in order to assess the quality of higher education programmes. This is to develop relevant and effective policies for scaling up higher education institutions’ programmes. The main objectives of the policy recommendations are fostering a productive research culture, strengthening advanced degree programmes (MA and PhD), and restructuring programmes in order to achieve the best results under the current political and geographical restrictions. More importantly, in its essence, the recommendations strongly advocate for the improvement of vocational and technical aspects of higher education programmes. These programmes should adapt to the demand of the national, regional and international labour market, nurture entrepreneurship, and ultimately address the issue of high unemployment among university graduates in Palestine, as higher education is the nexus for entering the labour market.
Support for vulnerable university students
With the financial support from the Saudi Committee for the Relief of Palestinian People, UNESCO is successfully supporting vulnerable higher education students through the establishment of 10 community libraries in the West Bank and Gaza, benefitting more than 48,000 higher education students. The students experiencing financial hardships with purchasing textbooks and other education materials supported through library services, including the provision of trainings, support for scientific research, access to textbooks and photocopying possibilities. 80 volunteers recruited and trained to support the library services within the framework of the right to higher education advocacy campaign and a right to higher education toolkit, in cooperation with higher education institutions, the Ministry of Education and local councils to raise awareness on the rights to, in and through higher education in Palestine, with a particular focus on discrimination and disability. After the completion of the project in 2017, libraries are proven to be a sustainable support system and a second home for vulnerable students and an added value for the Palestinian community. With the successful outcome of the project, UNESCO helps thousands of impoverished but bright and motivated students to realize their potential by supporting an equitable access to higher education.