Every year in Palestine, and concurrently with approximately 180 countries in the world, the Global Campaign for Education stands steadily, emerging from the womb of a coalition that group’s educational, feminist, health, youth and agricultural organizations, congregating together for the sake of students and teachers and reminding officials of the promises they made towards education for all.
This year, and over a period of one week spanning from the 22nd-28th/April, the Palestinian Coalition for a Safe Learning and Teaching Environment implemented a wide range of activities with the theme “Rights from the Start: Early Childhood Care and Education Now”.
The aim of the activities of the Global Action Week for Education was to demand decision makers in Palestine to provide early childhood education with more attention, and linking it to children’s rights in international conventions and Palestinian rules, particularly receiving compulsory and quality education. The coalition also demanded, via the activities of this week, the need to invest in early childhood care and education and protect and develop children, particularly because this is a highly critical age and since this investment will pay back in the future.
Participating in the activities of the Global Action Week for Education was more than 1.5 million participants, under the banner of the Palestinian Coalition, in addition to all West Bank governmental and UNRWA schools, alongside a number of private schools and with a large sum of kindergartens.
The Global Action Week for Education consisted of numerous activities including marathons in Jenin and Hebron, travelling train in Tulkarem, events tent in Ramallah, recreational days and various activities in Nablus, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, Jenin and Gaza and the Big Picture activity which directly translated the aspirations of Palestinian children concerning their model school from their own perspective. The week concluded with a massive march in Ramallah, Saturday 28th, to encounter the violations of the occupation against the educational sector in Jerusalem, to enforce compulsory and free childhood education and to demand appropriate work conditions and minimum wages for employees of kindergartens.
Among the achievements of the Global Action Week for Education:
First: reaffirmation by Dr. Salam Fayyad, prime minister, of the following:
1) The rejection of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) of the attempts of the Israeli occupation to eradicate the Palestinian curriculum in Jerusalem and the reaffirmation of continuous support of Jerusalemite institutions.
2) The commitment of the PNA to social dialogue, especially concerning the issues of rights and minimum wages, and enhancement of personal capacities to ensure enough skills to defend and fortify national decisions from blackmail.
3) The importance of enhancing self-esteem and the concept of true citizenship among the Palestinian people, in the sense of rights, duties and equal opportunities.
Second: the affirmation of the Ministry of Education to intensify action and continue the accomplishment of the following:
1) Development of a strategy for the early childhood sector, to be announced soon.
2) A national fund to support the early childhood sector, in order to supplement this sector with financial resources to reduce financial burdens on those responsible of kindergartens and to enforce them to take into consideration educational and environmental criteria in kindergartens, in addition to abide them to a minimum rate of wages for employees in kindergartens.
3) The establishment of 46 kindergartens “Upper Kindergarten”, functioning as an annex to primary schools; two classes were established in each educational directorate in the West Bank, alongside 14 upper kindergartens in the Gaza Strip, focused in marginalized areas.
4) Establishment of two centers for additional training of kindergarten employees.
Third: the activities of the Global Action Week for Education contributed to the mobilization of media to focus on the early childhood sector, such that numerous media agencies covered the events of the week, reaching a point where whole program episodes being dedicated to discuss the reality of the early childhood sector.
Through the activities of the Global Campaign for Education, which culminated with the Global Action Week for Education, the Palestinian Coalition for a Safe Learning and Teaching Environment will continue to demand the following:
1) Adoption of the right of children to free and compulsory early childhood education.
2) Increase in the budgets allocated from the PNA for the early childhood sector, to include 8% of the budget allocated for education.
3) Adoption of a national strategic plan to the early childhood sector, in partnership with official institutions, civil-society institutions and the private sector.
4) Improvement of work conditions of workers in the early childhood sector, by determining appropriate minimum wages.
5) Increase in number of kindergartens and rehabilitation of kindergarten workers.
Organizations of coalition: Union of Agricultural Work Committees, right to play, Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Hydrology Group, Huryat Institution, Early Childhood Resource Center, Teacher Creativity Center, Health Work Committees, Rural Women Development Society, Women’s Affairs Technical Committees, General Union of Palestinian Teachers, Women Center for Legal Aid and Counseling, Partners in Sustainable Development Organization, Women’s Studies Center, General Union of Palestinian Women, Union of Cooperative Associations for Saving and Credit, Tamer Institute for Community Education, Yafa Cultural Center, Democracy and Workers' Rights Center, General Federation of Independent Trade Unions, Al-Nahda Women’s Association, Sawa Organization and the General Union of Palestinians with Disabilities.