On Wednesday 18/02/2015, Bank of Palestine and Welfare Association held a special celebration to honor a number of fellowship recipients within “Zamaleh” program for academic development, at Bank of Palestine’s General Management Head Office in Ramallah.

The activities of the ceremony were organized between Ramallah and Gaza through video conferencing, under the patronage and in the presence of Minister of Education and Higher Education, Dr. Khawla Al-Sharsheer, Minister of Labor, Mr. Mamoun Abu Shahla, Mr. Hashim Shawa, Bank of Palestine’s Chairman and General Manager, Dr. Tafeeda Jirbawi, General Manager of Welfare Association, in addition to the recipients of the fellowships, representatives of Palestinian universities, a number of the Bank’s Board of Directors and executive management and representatives of institutions, private sector and NGOs.

Mr. Hashim Shawa welcomed the attendees, confirming that the Bank’s sponsorship to “Zamaleh” program for academic development is due the Bank’s awareness to the importance of education and the enhancement of expertise and human resources in different educational sectors at the Palestinian universities. He indicated that this program will contribute in closing the gap between theoretical sciences and the rapid modern developments around the world.

Shawa added that the Bank views this ceremony as a harvest to its aspirations, especially that many of the recipients of the fellowships who attended the ceremony will conduct scientific and applied visits in various counties around the world acquiring various international expertise, including large corporations, banks, space stations, research centers and others, to bring back this experience and research to our students in the universities; he adds that the Bank does not consider its contribution to this program as a donation, but as a long-term investment in the Palestinian human resources. In addition to the program’s efforts to support leadership and innovation that complements the educational process to keep up with new scientific developments around the world, which guarantees to graduate educated and creative generations.

Dr. Tafeeda Jirbawi praised the great efforts by “Zamaleh” program and the distinctive opportunities its provides through fellowships to university professors in order to enhance their scientific expertise and learn about developments in various medical, economic and environmental specializations, as well as in fields of communications, engineering and science, in addition to the cultural and knowledge exchange, refining skills and enhancement of scientific expertise and bring them to Palestine for the benefit of our people.

Dr. Jirbawi explained that “Zamaleh” program represents true partnership between private sector, NGOs and institutions of higher education, which enables university cadre to meet the scientific, technological and economic needs.

Dr. Jirbawi thanked the great contributions provided by Bank of Palestine to “Zamaleh” program throughout its social responsibility; she indicated that Bank of Palestine provided contributions of more than 2.5 million dollars over the course of five years, whereas Welfare institution, implementer of the project, contributed 0.5 million dollars, financed by the Arab Monetary Fund under the Management of Islamic Development Bank.

She also commended the various programs implemented in partnership with Bank of Palestine, such as “My Future”, “Al Bayara”, “Gaza in the heart”, youth and health programs, in addition to educational programs, particularly those related to the rehabilitation of some schools in Gaza strip that were damaged due to the latest Israeli aggression in Gaza Strip; she confirmed that education is considered as the primary engine for the development of civilizations and the axis for measuring the development and growth of societies; she added: “investment in education enhances social capabilities as it provides community members with skills that allow them to depend on themselves, face social challenges and deal with priorities”, she continues to add “education field was and still is the primary focus at Welfare Association”.

Dr. Jirbawi renewed her invitation for all professors and lecturers at various Palestinian universities to benefit from the program and to submit applications to advance their skills and knowledge. She also invited different institutions from the private sectors and NGOs to contribute and get involved in supporting and implementing the program.

Her Excellency, Dr. Khawla Al-Sharsheer, Minister of Education and Higher Education, thanked both Bank of Palestine and Welfare Association for “Zamaleh” program; she indicated that this program is of great importance for the Ministry of Education and Higher Education as it meets urgent needs of the Palestinian universities, and it provides the opportunity for faculty members to conduct scientific developmental training visits to higher education institutions outside the country and reflect this experience when they return at their universities and with their students. She also indicated that this program enhances academic research and provides an opportunity for Palestinian researchers to analyze samples and data using modern and advanced devices at distinctive international centers.

Dr. Khawla Al-Sharsheer added that this program is in-line with the direction and policies of the ministry in regards to fellowships and the development of cadre in various specializations and promotes real partnership and constructive and fruitful collaboration between the private sector and higher education institutions; it also enhances the concept of universal international education and opens the horizon for collaborative scientific research.

Mr. Mamoun Abu Shahla, Minister of Labor praised the initiative launched by the Bank, indicating that “Zamaleh” program is considered a nationally distinctive program, commending the support provided by the Bank, represented by Mr. Hashim Shawa, who has a modern vision towards education and the Palestinian society.

Dr. Ilham Khatib, representative of recipients of fellowships, commended the transparency of the evaluation committees to provide “Zamaleh” fellowships, and added that she is proud to receive a scholarship in the Unites States financed by national and Palestinian capital; she thanked Bank of Palestine, Welfare Association and other parties that contributed to the success of this program.

At the end of the ceremony, fellowship recipients including professors and lecturers at universities were honored and granted certificates of appreciation.