JERUSALEM, October 28 (JMCC) - Thousands of delegates from around the world will be in Israel
and the occupied Palestinian territories
from October 28-31 for the opportunity to explore “the role of education and its social, political and environmental impact” during the 2010 World Education Forum (WEF).
Organized by the Palestinian Coordinating Committee (PCC) and supported by the International Advisory Committee, this is the first time the WEF, part of the World Social Forum (WSF), is being held here.
“The fact that the World Education Forum is in Palestine and the fact that it is not only in the West Bank, but also in Gaza and also in Lebanon, is contributing of the globalization of the Palestinian issue. [It is also] contributing to the ‘Palestinization’ of the World Social Forum process,” said Michael Warchawski, an Israeli anti-Zionist activist and the founder of the Alternative Information Center (AIC), a joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative that promotes “the human and national rights of the Palestinian people and a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis based on progressive principles and respect for international law
The Forum is divided into six themes: Education, arts, culture and identity; Education as a tool for human and mind liberation; Ideologies in Education; Traditional & Popular Education; Education, Environment and Nature; and Education for peace and equality.
Workshops, solidarity tours, conferences and cultural events will be held over the four days in Jerusalem
, Beirut (Lebanon), and the major West Bank cities of Ramallah
“There will be a lot of topics. Some will be connected to the occupation: what does it mean education under occupation, education under colonialism, education and war? But some will relate to issues which are not necessarily and directly linked to occupation and to war. And this is what is refreshing in this social forum in Palestine. It is to show that Palestine is on the one hand an occupied country, victim of colonialism. But on the other hand, it is a society with social challenges and problems to be dealt with like any place in the world,” Warchawski said.
He added that the Forum would help create strong links between organizations from around the world, thereby making their social movements that much more effective.
“What I am expecting and I am sure it will happen will be more direct contacts and more sharing experiences which, among others, will help to make the solidarity work all around the world even bigger and more efficient,” Warchawski said.
EDUCATION UNDER OCCUPATION
While topics related to global education and social justice struggles will be discussed, this year’s World Education Forum will place a large focus on Palestinian education under the ongoing Israeli system of occupation.
“The Israeli occupation has a huge negative effect on education in Palestine. Since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the Palestinian people have been systematically denied their basic rights and independence on all levels of life, such as mobility restrictions because of the wall and the military checkpoints in addition to the impossibility to have access to the most basic services,” conference organizers wrote on the WEF website.
“The right to education is continuously violated: schools are shut down, schools are used as a military base, teachers and children are harassed and arrested, travel permits are denied, school schedules are interrupted.”
As such, on Friday October 29, leaders from various Palestinian organizations will be in Haifa to examine how the creation of a Palestinian educational model can help formulate a stronger sense of identity among the Palestinian minority in Israel.
Palestinian students will also explore their freedom to form student movements and platforms at Israeli universities, while The French Jewish Union for Peace (UJFP) and the Maghreb Workers’ Association of France (ATMF) will host a discussion in Haifa on the history of education under direct and indirect colonialism.
Delegates and organizations from the West Bank, Canada, Brazil, Italy and many other countries will further examine the issue of education under occupation on Saturday October 30 in Bethlehem, under the theme of “Education as a tool of resistance.”
“In all countries of the world that have been or are still occupied, education has played an important role in resisting the occupation and achieving national independence. The experiences of many nations highlight this role including those of South Africa and Palestine. The conference will also look to shed light on the role of education in resistance through research papers dealing with concrete experiences of how to employ education as a tool to resist occupation and address all forms of oppression,” Bethlehem-area organizers explained in the day’s program.
Ultimately, according to the WEF planning committee, international participation in the conference is an act of solidarity with the struggles Palestinians must face every day under Israeli colonial policy.
“The WEF-Palestine is finally vitally important in the context of the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian people, the siege of Gaza and persecution of local and international activists. The brutal attack on the Freedom Flotilla
was only one amongst many recent events in the escalation of Israeli policies of aggression. The WEF-Palestine, therefore, offers not only a space for people from all over the world to discuss issues relating to education – [their] participation in the Forum is a concrete act of solidarity with the Palestinian people and resistance to occupation, apartheid and colonialism.”
For a full schedule of workshops and activities taking place during the World Education Forum in Palestine, visit www.wef-palestine.org.