Right to Education Week starts on campus

Birzeit University marks Right to Education Week 2019, an annual event that starts on November 25, by organizing initiatives that highlight the Israeli occupation regime’s continued control over Palestine and protest its violations of Palestinians’ right to education and academic freedom.

The week’s opening lecture, titled “Education on the Check Point: Academic Freedom in Palestine,” was introduced by a speech by Fatima Nasser, a volunteer with the Right to Education Campaign, in which she stated that this year’s events are held under the theme academic freedom.

Nasser explained the reasons for choosing this year’s theme by outlining the Israeli actions that, among others, have greatly impacted on Birzeit University, its students, faculty and staff. She pointed out that around 1000 students have been arrested since 2004, 28 were killed by Israeli occupation forces, and seven international faculty members were denied entry or forced to leave Palestine in Israel’s attempt to prevent the presence of foreign faculty at Palestinian universities.

Lena Meari, an assistant professor at the Department of Social and Behavioral Science, gave a presentation on interventions in education implemented during colonialism. She focused on education and knowledge production to develop an anti-colonial thought towards liberation.

A representative of the university’s international faculty members presented a lecture titled “The university under occupation: between localization and internationalization” that focused on the tools used by occupation authorities to militarize the university. Israeli authorities impose strict restrictions on Birzeit University’s right to hire and maintain international faculty as they deny professors entry or force them to leave the country by closing off any viable means for them to stay or return.

Former prisoner Abdel Qader Badawi talked about his learning experience inside Israeli prisons. Badawi finished his bachelor’s degree while imprisoned and is currently completing his master’s degree in Israeli studies at Birzeit University.

Sa’d Nimer, a faculty member at the Palestine and Arabic Studies Program, gave real-life examples of Palestinians exercising resistance through education, citing a new school at Fasayil, a village in the Jordan Valley, which was built as a statement of defiance by the villagers. Nimer pointed out that the construction of the school requires a permit from the Israeli occupation authorities.