Moving toward building a Palestinian civil service

York Professor Saeed Rahnema (left), together with a team of scholars and York students, has just returned to Canada after a challenging and engaging visit to the Middle East. In December 2005, the York team visited the region to work on establishing a new undergraduate program in public policy and administration at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem for the purpose of training future Palestinian civil servants.

Rahnema, a political scientist in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies and an expert on the region, is principal investigator on the project. Professors Gregory Albo and Robert MacDermid, both from the Political Science Department in York’s Faculty of Arts, are the co-investigators. York graduate students Angela Joya and Kareem Javed and undergraduate political science students Lamees Awweh and Ammar Hussein accompanied the professors on the trip.

In July 2005, the team were notified that they had received funding from the the federal government’s Canada Corps University Partnership Program (CUPP) administered by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), and financed by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The award, one of only 10 in a competition, was open to all Canadian universities. (See the July 18,2005 issue of YFile.)

Right: The York team and Al-Quds teams at the University of Jordan, Amman. Pictured from right to left are: Saeed Rahnema;  Robert MacDermid; Sabrin Abu Ubeid (Al-Quds); Salam Saeb Erakat (Al-Quds); Haitham Ibrahim (Al-Quds), Angela Joya, Gregory Albo, Kareem Javed, Ammar Hussein, and Lamees Awweh.

The group’s original plan had been to travel to and stay for a extended period of time in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza in order to work more closely with Palestinian faculty and students in the design of the Al-Quds program. However, as a result of continued tensions and confrontations in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, the CCUPP selection committee approved the project on the condition that the meetings be moved to Jordan.

The York team visited Jordan’s National Institute for Training (NIT), formerly the Jordanian Institute for Public Administration, a semi-independent public sector agency affiliated with the Jordanian Ministry of Administrative Development and Civil Service Bureau. The NIT has extensive training programs for civil servants, including executive training workshops for senior public sector managers. In addition to training programs for Jordanian civil servants, they also provide training programs for several other Arab nations, including programs for Palestinian, Sudanese and Yemeni civil servants.

They also visited the University of Jordan’s Public Administration program, part of the Faculty of Business Administration, where they met with the Musa al-lozi, dean of the Faculty of Business Administration, and with the heads of a number of departments including business administration, public administration and economics.

Left: Meeting with officials from the University of Jordan’s Public Administration program

In subsequent meetings related to other projects, including a proposal to create a graduate master’s level program in public policy and administration, and strengthening York and Al-Quds relationships, the faculty members of the York team met with officials from Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.

 The visit was very successful and provided a great opportunity for the York students to travel to the region and visit local institutions and be directly involved in the discussions and design of educational programs,” said Rahnema. “As part of the project, the students were also involved in the preparation of two case studies, one in the area of housing and the other on public health in Palestinian territories. The final report containing the structure of the undergraduate program, its curriculum and the case studies will be sent shortly to Al-Quds University and to CIDA/CUPP.”

On Feb. 2, the York team will give a seminar on the project followed by a reception. The seminar will take place from 3 to 5pm, in the Harry Leith Room, 004, Atkinson.

For more information on the initiative, visit the Canada Corps Web site.