A veiled Palestinian teacher gestures as children attend a lesson at a United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA)-run school in Gaza.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The European Parliament adopted on Wednesday legislation intended to prevent EU aid given to the Palestinian Authority for educational purposes from being used to teach hate.
The legislation was introduced by the parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control in March, and aims to ensure that all programs financed with EU money should “reflect common values such as freedom, tolerance and nondiscrimination within education.”
Specifically addressed by the legislation are funds allotted to the PA by the EU’s PEGASE mechanism. Since its launch in 2008, PEGASE has been the main source of EU fiscal support to the PA. Approximately €3 billion have thus far been used for the implementation of the PA’s Reform and Development Plan, which includes social development and education.
The Jerusalem-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), which strives to use educational tools to mitigate extremist influences in the Middle East, assisted European Parliament members in formulating the legislation.
“It is bizarre that for over 10 years, the PEGASE fund has transferred around €3b. to the PA, a significant amount of which goes to the Palestinian education sector. In all that time, there have been no real attempts by the European Commission to ensure that Palestinian children receive an education based on European values,” said IMPACE-se CEO Marcus Sheff.
A 2017 report by IMPACT-se examined the PA’s grades 1-11 curriculum and found that it was significantly more radical than preceding curricula, glorifying “martyrdom” and promoting a “radical Islamist” worldview.
Under the legislation approved on Wednesday’s, PA textbooks will henceforth be examined to proactively check whether they meet EU and UNESCO standards.
The words “freedom, tolerance and nondiscrimination within education” were adopted already in 2015 in a declaration by EU education ministers at an informal meeting in Paris. However, the declaration only addressed curricula within the EU. This is the first time concrete efforts are being made to ensure the application of these values to EU funded classrooms outside the union’s borders.