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UNESCO establishes new academic chair in Palestine


Palestine has benefited from a special UNESCO scientific project, the first of its kind in the Arab world. The UN organisation has established the Chair in Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the Islamic University of Gaza in association with Al-Aqsa and Al-Azhar Universities in the besieged territory.

The representative of UNESCO in Palestine, Derek Elias, said that the aim of the project is to promote teaching, research and outreach activities in the named subjects throughout Palestine. "This will develop curricula and degree-awarding, post-graduate programmes in astronomy, astrophysics and space sciences, and provide training in these fields," he added. The holder of the chair will also contribute to relevant international initiatives covered by the programme.

Dr Suleiman Baraka from Al-Aqsa University is the first incumbent of the UNESCO chair. Dr. Baraka is an ex NASA scientist and will be responsible for contacts and networking activities.

UNESCO established a similar Chair in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in 2006 at Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank, Palestine.

MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad

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