JICA Days at Birzeit University Highlight Japanese Support

The Japanese Agency for International Cooperation (JICA) launched two days of events at Birzeit University on January 28, 2014, featuring an exhibit of JICA projects in Palestine, a photo gallery, a cultural zone for grants/scholarships to universities in Japan, and a series of lectures and seminars.

Opening the event, Birzeit University President Khalil Hindi said that the university has always been a crossroads of civilization and cultural exchange, since education and culture are the sharpest weapons – and perhaps the only ones – in liberating a nation.

"The Palestinians, despite their history of opression, have never lost their faith in humanity, as they received support and international solidarity," he said.

First Secretary for the Representative Office of Japan Seiya Shimada pointed to JICA’s cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, emphasizing the importance of cultural and scientific exchange between the two countries. He said that there are currently 15 Palestinians studying in Japan, two of whom graduated from Birzeit University. First Secretary Shimada urged students to take advantage of the grants corner at the event and announced upcoming cultural events in collaboration with Mahmoud Darwish Museum.

JICA Chief Representative Tanaka Izumi explained that JICA’s support for the Palestinian Authority aims to secure a sustainable Palestinian economy and for that reason, the agency focuses on development projects in all walks of life.

“I think that this event is a good chance to showcase our projects at your university in the hopes of contributing to the academic and scientific life on campus,” he said.

After the opening ceremony, the exhibit of photos was opened to the public and various lectures began. The first was on clean energy in Palestine,followed by a lecture entitled on sustainable tourism in Jericho. The third lecture was on wastewater treatment and was delivered by Japanese expert Satoru Onike, speaking on the wastewater refinery project that is funded by Japan.

Lectures held on the second day of the event dealt with maternal and child health, water projects and resources in Palestine, the domestic financial system, solid waste treatment, strategic planning in local government and finally, demonstration of a civil defence maneuver.

On the sidelines of “JICA Days," President Hindi met with a delegation from the Japanese Representative Office and JICA. Both parties discussed spheres and prospects of cooperation.

First Secretary Shimada focused on possibilities for cooperation, such as annual grants provided by the Japanese Ministry of Higher Education to Palestinians, or the possibility of developing Japanese language courses into a Bachelor’s degree program in Japanese language and literature.

Vice-President for Administrative Affairs Adel Zagha in turn offered a briefing on the projects that Birzeit University has prioritized and for which it is seeking support from JICA.