Palestinian University Education

October 3, 2006

The Funding for Peace Coalition has long expressed concern about the continued poor standards of Palestinian educational services - levels that rarely meet basic UNESCO guidelines.

The "Economist" magazine of London has reported an encouraging new programme. A large engineering conglomerate, in conjunction with the University of Maryland has sponsored a new "mini MBA".

In a region where education has become a tool to wage war and where unemployment is threateningly high, these initial measures must be seen as a welcome change.

The following is the full item from the Economist.

An MBA grows in Gaza

The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip may hover around 30%, but many of the jobless are not lacking in education. The problem, according to the Education for Employment Foundation (EFE), is that university education does not match employment needs. So when the Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), one of the largest engineering and construction firms in the Middle East, told EFE that it had too few accountants, the foundation, with funding from the CCC, decided to create a new programme to train Gazans for the jobs.

In March EFE approached the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business and convinced several of its faculty to put their spring holiday plans on hold. The Smith team then flew to Cairo, where they met with faculty from the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG). Over the course of eight days the professors from Smith designed a "mini MBA", targeted at the aspiring accountants, and trained the IUG instructors in how to teach it.

The first class of 11 students graduated from the IUG programme in August. Nearly all have been placed in jobs with the CCC, which has guaranteed over 100 more jobs for future graduates. EFE, meanwhile, is looking to set up similar programmes in other countries. Its founder, Ronald Bruder, a graduate of the Stern School of Business at New York University, believes a focused educational approach is the key to economic growth in the Islamic world.

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