Gaza, Palestine - The Coalition for Integrity and Accountability-AMAN held an intellectual meeting to discuss the current crises of politicizing Palestinian higher education institutions and its effect on citizens’ trust in the integrity of these institutions, especially since the Palestinian Government withheld recognition of Al-Aqsa University in Gaza. This prompted AMAN to hold a meeting in order to discuss actions and mechanisms for ensuring integrity and impartiality of the educational system.
AMAN views this crisis as part of the larger predicament of politicizing public positions in general, which became more pronounced post the internal political division in the second half of 2006, hence negatively affecting the quality of services provided by public institutions. It also weakened service institutions in meeting public needs in favor of partisan and factional goals. Therefore, AMAN sees that efforts to reform and enhance professionalism in public institutions, educational institutions included, must be based on the rule of non-politicizing civil service positions, hence changing the status quo accruing by using the quota system.
Many intellectuals from the various universities in Gaza participated in the meeting, most of who confirmed that politicizing higher education institutions in the interest of political parties should never be allowed. At the same time, they stressed the importance of the role politics plays in the Palestinian basic educational curriculum, as well as at universities, such as in mobilizing students and enforcing their political role to safeguard the Palestinian cause and support the national liberation movement.
Attendees also emphasized the importance of fortifying the educational system with integrity values, principles of transparency, and systems of accountability. This can be achieved by empowering and activating the board of directors’ role in protecting the mission of higher education. Also by activating the role of unions to monitor and control the educational process and to regulate methods that ensure the rights of university employees. This is in addition to building and activating the role of students’ councils as well guiding these councils to place students’ interest above factional interest. It is also necessary to support the establishment of students’ clubs that allow for cultural space, hence to become an incubator for students in universities.
On the other hand, attendees pointed out that it is important for universities to disclose their policies and reports displaying transparency at work. They also called for consolidating NGOs and media’s efforts in the service of education with the aim of shedding light on the performance of higher education institutions.
Furthermore, attendees recommended the start of coordination with all official parties to ward off repercussions of the political bickering on the education sector, as well as identify all important files, in addition to the need for development of university curriculum ensuring that democratic principles are respected inside universities campuses; finally to activate the Higher Education Law to become the legal reference for protecting universities including Al-Aqsa university.