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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

UNESCO and the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinian People sign an agreement on university study grants in favour of Palestinian students

UNESCO and the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinian People sign an agreement on university study grants in favour of Palestinian students
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On Tuesday 24 April 2007, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, Dr Said Al Orabi Al Harthi, Chairman of the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinian People and special advisor to HRH Prince Naef Bin Abdul Aziz, Minister of Interior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and H.E. Mr Elias Sanbar, Ambassador and Permanent Observer of Palestine to UNESCO, signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding on study grants in favour of Palestinian students.

The signing ceremony was held at UNESCO Headquarters in the presence of H.E. Mr Ziad Aldrees, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO, and numerous Ambassadors to UNESCO from the Arab region.

This Memorandum of Understanding concerns a project entitled “Enhancing Palestinian Human Capital: Study Grants to 129 Palestinian Students Studying Abroad,” for an amount of US$975,000. This project, financed by the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinian People, will be placed under the supervision of UNESCO and implemented in close cooperation with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to UNESCO.

By providing financial assistance to students in need and enabling them to complete first university degrees (Bachelor degrees or technical degrees) abroad, especially in Arab countries and in Asia, the project aims at building Palestinian human resources and professional capacities. Candidates will be selected according to a set of commonly approved criteria, with special consideration for female candidates and students coming from most disadvantaged areas. Students will be expected to submit progress reports and certificates of the grades obtained at the end of each academic year.

“The outstanding generosity of the Committee, which His Royal Highness Prince Naef oversees, is a sign of trust and confidence in UNESCO,” Mr Matsuura declared. “Supporting higher education in the Palestinian Territories has been a priority for UNESCO, since the inception of its assistance programme in favour of the Palestinian people”, he emphasized. “The Saudi Committee’s financial assistance comes indeed at a critical moment. We are witnessing high rates of school drop-outs and a decrease in students’ enrolment in higher education. In this context, giving Palestinian youth the opportunity to access higher education at home and abroad is, I believe, a most significant investment in the future of Palestine. It is thus my hope that our strengthened partnership will contribute not only to the emergence of a new generation of highly educated and skilled Palestinians, but also to the promotion of openness, mutual understanding and regional cooperation, as Palestinian students get the opportunity to study abroad, notably in the Middle East,” he concluded.

This signature coincided with the termination of the “Supporting and Equitable and Efficient Funding Mechanism for Palestinian Higher Education” project, successfully implemented under a first Memorandum of Understanding signed in September 2005 with the Saudi Committee for the Relief of Palestinian People, for an amount of US$15.2 million. Dr Al Harthi’s visit to Headquarters was also an occasion to discuss the possible continuation of this project, which already provided direct financial support to 11 Palestinian universities and to 19, 000 Palestinian students, and assisted the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education in creating a unified student aid system.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 060-2007
  • 25-04-2007
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