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Right to Education

R2E Friends P.E.D.A.L write about their visit to BZU

Written by admin  •  Saturday, 13.08.2011, 22:19

P.E.D.A.L and R2E campaign discussed ways the UK activists can help back home. Photo: P.E.D.A.L

The Right to Education (R2E) Project aims to promote social mobilisation and legal accountability, looking to focus on the legal challenges to the right to education. The R2E campaign in Palestine is a grassroots movement that seeks to document, research and raise awareness about the issues facing Palestinian students, teachers and academic institutions under the Israeli occupation. It is a campaign of international awareness raising and lobbying to isolate and put pressure the Israeli government.

R2E Palestine was founded in 1988 in Birzeit University during the 1st Intifada when 11 universities and 1194 schools (plus nurseries) were forced to close. Birzeit University opened in 1973, since then it has closed 15 times. The longest period of closure was from 1988-1992. During this time, students and academics showed strong acts of defiance, including holding lectures outside the university gates or in lecturers’ houses.

The students presented the main obstacles for access to education in Palestine.


Physical obstructions to education such as the wall, roadblocks and checkpoints throughout the West Bank, impeding students walking, driving or taking public transport. All of these are illegal under international law. According to the UN there are 64 permanent checkpoints in the West bank, but there are many more sporadic ‘flying’ checkpoints, roadblocks and earth mounds.

The Israeli military harass Birzeit students’, blocking access to exams,  invading their homes, interrogating them.

Since 2004 students from Gaza are prohibited from studying in the West Bank. Lecturers and international students have also been restricted from accessing universities. For example in 2010 US academic Noam Chomsky was refused entry into Israel and consequently the West Bank where he was due to deliver lectures at Berzeit University.  Furthermore many Palestinian students are prevented from receiving international scholarships.

Birzeit was intended to be a national university open to all in Palestine, but as a result of these obstacles, it is accessed by mainly Ramallah and Jerusalem residents.

Palestinian schools frequently face demolition in Israeli controlled areas of the West Bank. Building permits are extremely difficult to obtain for Palestinian schools; approval often comes with extortionate fees. e.g. Al-Nabi Samwil School , Jerusalem, was issued with a demolition order on its small outside toilet and a tent they had been using as an extra classroom.

The students presented the main obstacles for access to education in Palestine.

We had discussion centered on finding tangible ways that international activists, students and their networks can support the R2E campaign

One of main issues emerging from these discussions was that the students don’t want to keep telling their stories and sharing their pain; there are thousands of stories and no change is happening.

Many ideas came out of our morning together; ways that PEDAL can support the R2E campaign, and how we can take it home as individuals, not to perpetuate inaction.

Twinning R2E with PEDAL and universities at home; photography exhibition and film collaboration. Taking part in Right to Education International Week of Action in November 2011, raising awareness and taking part in actions in university campuses across the world, using video conferencing to support each other. To like and share the R2E page on Facebook; give an R2E campaign presentation at universities on our home towns; affiliate our universities with the campaign, support the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions campaign; support an individual student. The website ( has many ways to support the campaign.

This meeting was one of the more passionate and energetic; the students had many ideas and were keen to work together with PEDAL and individuals in the group. They shared ideas and stories with us, enlightening us to the brutal attacks on Palestinian education by the Israeli state. Their enthusiasm was inspiring and we have created links and ideas for working together.

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