IntroductionPalestine rarely makes the news in Indian media. When it does, it is usually because "clashes" or “hostilities” have flared up yet again. Knee-jerk sentiments are often quick to ascribe Palestinians with “terrorism”. The reality is that the Palestinians are an exceptionally warm and welcoming people.

Perceptions about Palestine are too often shaped by lack of information or by propaganda. It is easy to dehumanise those we are ignorant about.

This 10-part series on Palestine consists of photographs from East Jerusalem and the West Bank taken by the author during a visit in early 2018. They convey varied aspects of Palestine’s natural beauty, her ancient and unique history, Palestinian art, education and culture, and the grim realities of their lives under Israeli military occupation.

In part four, we look at university life in Palestine.

[Below: A map of West Bank, Gaza and Israel (L); the West Bank (R). Courtesy: palestinett.org]

Palestine-map

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Education is highly valued in Palestine; the figures speak for themselves. Despite the immense hardships under military occupation, the literacy rate is 97 percent (male literacy at 99 percent and female literacy at 95 percent and university enrollment is high.

There are several large universities in the West Bank with over 10,000 students and the largest among them — An-Najah university — has over 20,000!

This is a look at university campuses in Palestine.

The campus of Bethlehem University:

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Faculty of engineering at Al-Quds University in the town of Abu Dis.

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Students at an on-campus café at Al-Quds University.

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A seminar on sustainability at Al-Quds University:

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The new campus of An-Najah University in the city of Nablus. This the largest university in the West Bank with 22,000 students and 19 faculties.

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The spacious library of An-Najah University:

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A Braille printer at Birzeit University. Students receive credits to translate text books into Braille for the benefit of their visually challenged peers.

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High school students attending a seminar on climate change at the Palestine Natural History Museum in Bethlehem.

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A conference at Hebron University in the city of Hebron:

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An all-female camera crew interviewing a faculty member at Hebron University for a local television channel.

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Previous post: Sampling Palestine's art, culture and cuisine

See more from the series here

Chirag Dhara is a theoretical physicist-turned-climate change scientist. He is keenly interested in the Palestinian situation, and visited the occupied West Bank for three months in early 2018 in solidarity with the Palestinians. He can be contacted through his Palestine travel blog or Instagram page.

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