The Palestinian Academic Network

Marwan Tarazi
The Palestinain Council for Higher Education
P.O.Box 17360 E.Jerusalem, Palestine


Palestine is very actively seeking to join the global developments in information technology. This field is exceptionally important to Palestinians at this point of history as they are in the process of building a nation. Quick access to accurate information, resources and communications have a major impact on this building process. Equally important is the impact of information technology and networking on sustainable development, openness and global human communications. These elements play a key role in breaking barriers between peoples and in promoting peace

The Academic sector is a key component in the development of the Palestinian information highway. The academic sector is closely linked to governmental institutions, commerce, industry, NGOs, etc. In addition, Palestinian universities are evenly distributed geographically over the territory. An Academic network backbone may be used by other sectors as a national backbone, at least in the initial stages. Furthermore, almost all universities offer continuing education programs An academic institution with established networking facilities is the natural training ground for transferring information technology knowledge from the academic sector into the community.

The Palestinian Academic Network in Palestine is one of the first attempts to develop electronic networking in Palestine. Although networking technology has advanced and developed rapidly, Palestinians still find themselves struggling with obstacles of connectivity and technology that have been imposed on them throughout the years.

Educators and researchers in Palestine are now realizing these facts and have actively begun to develop their own networks and advance the use of information technologies. It is within this spirit that the Academic Network of Palestine has been launched under the auspices of the Palestinian Council of Higher Education.

In order to succeed, the Academic Network will promote cooperation among academic institutions. Although the emphasis of cooperation will be placed on Palestinian academic sector in the initial stages, the Academic Network is well aware that the need for information goes beyond geographical and political boundaries. The network will very strongly promote regional and global cooperation.

The following project document describes the activities needed for the operational establishment and the development of the Palestinian Academic Network.

Problem Statement

The Palestinian academic sector recognizes the need for networking facilities within Palestine and with the outside world. The sector faces obstacles ranging from lack connectivity and a shortage of technical skills and resources. This proposal seeks to resolve these obstacles through acquiring the necessary infrastructure, building the information content and developing the human resources necessary to maintain and develop the network


Palestinian academic and research institutions have been struggling during the past few years to develop information technology and networking facilities. However, they have been faced with many obstacles that hindered healthy development in this field. The current networking status is almost strictly limited to electronic mil with access ranging from a few users at most sites to a whole university at some sites. There is very limited World Wide Web and direct Internet access. This is usually available at an individual level through long distance dial up connections.

The major problems that we face today in the Palestinian Authority (PA) areas are summarized by the following:

Connectivity: The lack of connectivity and Internet access is a major obstacle in the development of information technology.

Technical Skills:

A general shortage of technical skills exists in the field of networking and information technology in Palestine.


A severe shortage in human and financial resources exists at academic and research institutions in Palestine. This limits the acquisition of necessary equipment t develop a networking infrastructure at the institutional level, and /or the allocation of human resources necessary to maintain or develop the equipment.

The lack of networking has greatly limited broader regional cooperation. Palestinians realize that information technology and networking are amongst the most powerful tools in promoting development, openness and understanding between peoples; issues important to this region. The Palestinian Academic Network's goal will be geared towards this end.


The Objectives of the proposed project are:


There are two distinct and complementary functions that need to be identified and separated in developing the Academic Network and they are:
  1. Infrastructure: the media through which the information and communication exchange takes place.
  2. Info-structure: the information content and human networking. The reason for having the network
  3. Human Networking: Communications and interaction between users on local, regional and global levels.
Both the infrastructure and the infostructure will be developed simultaneously and in stage. In the first stages, the infrastructure at higher educational institutions will be upgraded to support local sand wide area networking. At the same time training activities will commence to upgrade the skills for personnel that will run and administer the networks and develop the information on the network. Both activities will be carried out in cooperation with Mediterranean partners. During these initial stages, an Academic networking Center will be established and one of two universities with advanced facilities and easier connectivity options will be used as pilot projects for full connectivity. During later stages, connectivity for the rest of the Palestinian higher education institutions and research centers will be achieved.

High schools will be next target of the academic network. Universities will assume the role of a service provider for the academic sector, each university in its region. Universities will provide connectivity, training and offer assistance to regional high schools and any other educational institutions.

Training constitutes an essential component of this project. Training will be associated with the different stages of the project, and will target three major groups:

1. System Administrators: Individuals that will install, manage and develop the infrastructure.
This is normally a highly specialized training and relies heavily on partnership programs with regional academic institutions that have acquired the expertise in the field. This type of training will have to be an on-going process to keep up with the rapid advances in the technology.

2. Information Technologists: Personnel that will feed the network with information. Information is especially important to academic institutions and researcher, yielding a relatively large target group. Nonetheless, this group is specialized. Therefore, this project will seek regional partners in training and exchange programs.

3. End Users: Personnel that will use the services of the network and use it for information exchange and human networking. This type of training will be mostly carried out through institutional in-house training.

Training of trainers will be one of the major objectives of this project to ensure continuity and development.