The Israelis hate it and many Arabs are jealous with the Palestinians for being highly educated in the Arab world. And I have no doubts about this fact since most of the Palestinian people hold high-level degrees and qualifications in different majors. The Palestinian people are proud of such achievements since they live in extremely hard conditions, conditions under a brutal occupation worsened by a crippling siege and other difficulties no one in the Arab world can bear to live.
Palestinians take education very seriously. Every single soul knows its importance. The political conditions badly affect the progress of our educational process. Despite the great dilemmas the Palestinians have been through, they keep their feet on the track of improving and developing the educational system. The number of educated people is at its highest in the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories) if compared with the other neighbouring states.
Take a look deep look at the Palestinian society and you will find that most of the families have educated members, one or two at least. Men and women have equal opportunities in achieving their education.
The education process in Occupied Palestine starts at the age of seven. They study for the next six years in the primary school, followed by three years in the prep in both UNRWA and governmental schools. This formal educational process ends at the age of 18 to let the graduated people complete their higher education at the colleges and universities spread all over Occupied Palestine. There are many good universities in Gaza e.g. the Islamic University, Al-Azhar University and Al-Aqsa University. All these universities play a significant role in the creation of an educated Gazan society. Some students try to go abroad to complete their studies but face many difficulties in doing so because of the illegal siege of Gaza. Many poor families can’t pay for their children to complete their education. There are many families in Gaza that live under the line of poverty.
Despite the huge number of educated people in Gaza, there are a few chances of getting jobs in such difficult conditions. The unemployment rate among highly-educated people has jumped to 45% in Gaza. It is a result of the continued occupation and siege that play a destructive role in the life sources in Gaza. Israel has destroyed agriculture, factories and commercial institutions in Gaza during the winter war in 2008. The damages of the war can be felt in all the aspects of life in Gaza. The closure of the border crossings has smashed the hope of the Palestinians to rebuild their institutions or engage in trade. As a result, many Palestinians in Gaza are forced to travel abroad to work despite the difficulties they face in travelling and living abroad.
The others who stay in Gaza are left without a job or they’re underpaid. A few lucky ones have jobs provided by the government, UNRWA or small non-governmental organisations that work on some welfare projects in the Strip. Taking into consideration that most of the Palestinians depend on UNRWA aid, their life is very basic and are not able to afford many necessities of life, let alone luxuries. Gazans hope to get their rights as the educated people and live with dignity like others all over the world, depending on no one but themselves.
Menna Hassan is a 23-year old teacher who lives in Gaza with her family. She has a B.A. degree in English language. Menna takes deep interest in issues relating to Gazan society. She considers it her moral and national duty to tell the world about the sufferings of Palestinians under the brutal Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip. Diary written by Menna Arselan; Edited & Published by Moign Khawaja.