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The areas claimed by the State of Palestine include the Gaza Strip that borders the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Egypt to the south, and Israel to the north and east and the West Bank which is bordered by Jordan to the east, and Israel to the north, south, and west.

The State of Palestine’s Arab education has been through a series of historic periods of colonial and external administrations, wars and internal unrest that have eluded the Palestinian people from having uninterrupted full sovereignty over their education system. Prior to 1992, the West Bank followed the education system of Jodan while the Gaza Strip followed Egypt’s education system. It wasn’t until 1994, following the signing of the Oslo Accords, when the educational systems of the West Bank and Gaza Strip were unified and brought under the administration of the newly formed Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) of the State of Palestine. The MEHE set out to develop a new Palestinian National Curriculum replacing the former Egyptian and Jordanian curriculum that was followed by the Gaza Strip and West Bank, respectively.

For a summary of historic events that have impacted the education system of the State of Palestine, click here.



Prior to 1994, schools in the West Bank followed the Jordanian system of education and schools in the Gaza Strip followed Egypt’s education system. Immediately after the 1994 Oslo Accords, the Palestinian National Authority unified the education system of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Since 1994, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) serves as the national organization which supervises and coordinates the activities of all levels of education in the State of Palestine. This includes the recognition of all post-secondary diploma and degree granting institutions of higher education in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Preprimary Education

Pre-primary or school education is a two-year cycle. It is neither free nor compulsory and intended for children starting at 4 years of age up to the age of 6.

Basic Education

Basic education is compulsory and begins at age 6 and includes Grades 1 to 10. UNRWA schools also offer Grades 1 to 10.

Secondary Education

The general secondary cycle of education covers Grades 11 and 12 and is not compulsory. Students can pursue an academic track (Science or Humanities) or the vocational track (in fields such as agriculture, commerce, home economics, hotel management, and industrial). Entry to Grade 11 requires successful completion of Grade 10. United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools for Palestine refugees do not offer Grades 11 and 12. Students who complete Grade 12 of the academic track must sit for the Tawjihi (general examination) to receive the Certificate of General Secondary Education شهادة الدراسة الثانوية العامة which provides access to higher education. Students who complete the vocational track sit for the Technical Tawjihi exams which provides them access to employment, further education in community colleges and universities in certain fields.

Postsecondary Education

Higher education in the State of Palestine is provided by university colleges, community colleges, or technical colleges. In addition to the two-year colleges, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs provides other technical-vocational education training (TVET) through Rehabilitation Centers intended to help dropouts.

First Cycle

The Certificate of General Secondary Education is required for admission to the first year of all undergraduate programs at colleges and universities as well as professional fields such as law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine in the State of Palestine. First cycle programs can be two years in duration leading to the Associate Diploma or four years leading to the Bachelor of Arts/Science. The Bachelor of Law is the first cycle professional degree awarded after four years of study. Engineering degrees leading to the Bachelor are five years in duration. Professional degrees in Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Veterinary Medicine are five-year programs while the Doctor of Medicine is six years.

Second Cycle

Admission to graduate programs is based on the bachelor’s degree. Holders of professional degrees in medicine, for example, may continue into a medical specialty at this cycle. Programs at the graduate level include the Higher Diploma which is one year and requires 30 semester units of credit. Research master’s degrees that require a thesis culminate with the title of MA or MSc. Professional master’s degrees based on coursework and project lead to the title of for example MBus, MBA, Med, MEng. All Master’s degrees require two years of study with a minimum of 36 semester units of credit.

Third Cycle

The doctoral programs are the final/third cycle of higher education and require a minimum of 30 semester units of credit for advanced coursework plus a major thesis (18 semester units of credit) to be completed over three full-time academic years or equivalent following a Master’s degree. Doctoral programs focus on independent research that results in a thesis and lead to the award of the title of Ph.D.

Credit System at the Postsecondary Level

Colleges and universities in the State of Palestine have adopted the semester unit credit system. Examples include:

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Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

IESC, Chair & Founder, President and CEO of ACEI


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