The first Education Sector Working Group (ESWG) in 2020 took place at the Ministry of Education (MoE) in Ramallah. The ESWG meetings are policy discussion and knowledge sharing forums on key achievements and issues of the education sector in Palestine. They are chaired by the MoE and MoHE and co-chaired by Ireland, representing Joint Funding Partners, with UNESCO as the Technical Advisor.
In his opening remarks, H. H. Dr. Marwan Awartani, the Minister of Education, presented his vision for the revised education strategy, including revising curriculum and textbooks; strengthening teaching, learning, school environment, and assessments; mainstreaming innovation; and decentralizing education processes. He stressed that the education partnership should be extended to include more local partners from universities, private sector, civil society, teachers, supervisors, parents, students, etc. He also touched upon the restructuring of education related thematic working groups, stressing the importance of having separate groups to address students’ well-being, school facilities and technology and innovation.
Mr. Jonathan Conlon, Representative of Ireland and the Deputy Chair of the Education Sector Working Group applauded both ministries on the preparation of the revised sector strategies and emphasized the need to support UNRWA, given the current challenges they are facing to continue delivering its services.
Mr. Junaid Sorosh Wali, Officer-in-Charge and Head of Office of UNESCO National Office for Palestine, emphasized that the development and revision of education strategies provides an opportunity to mainstream innovation and cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioral skills, and cross-cutting issues such as gender and disability across the education system. Starting from education policy and strategy levels, it is important to ensure quality and inclusiveness in curriculum and textbooks, teacher education, learning environment, and assessments. He further stressed that It is not possible to have inclusive education without quality education. Thus, there is a need to appropriately reflect the Inclusive Education Policy in education and higher education strategies to achieve the national priorities and the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on inclusive and quality education
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Ahmad Othman thanked UNESCO for its support in the development of the Higher Education Sector Strategy and Results Framework. He also mentioned the transformation of the management of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, including its strengthened relationship with the universities in Palestine and the results-based planning and methodology. He further stressed the need of increased funding for Higher Education.
The speeches were followed with a discussion on issues raised by the Minister of Education as well as on the Monitoring and Evaluation Report, sector strategies and thematic groups restructuring. For example, partners highlighted the need to revise some of indicators in the M&E report.
The meeting was concluded with closing remarks by the Minister of Education, who confirmed the need to revisit the indicators, which could measure quality and motivation. He also mentioned the need to set up small task forces in order to coordinate better the work of various thematic working groups.