Birzeit University in Palestine
Located in the city of Birzeit in Palestine, Birzeit University was the first institution of higher education to be established in Palestine in 1975. Its nine faculties focus on policy-oriented research to assist in the economic, social, and human development of Palestine; the works of additional institutes and centers are dedicated to the development and support of community-oriented programs that contribute to the achievement of sustainable development in Palestine.
Birzeit is located in the central Westbank, north of Ramallah.
The State of Palestine is a partially recognized state in the Middle East. It is containing the two areas West Bank and Gaza Strip. Today’s Palestine exists since the conflicts with Israel in 1948 and 1967, leading to the current difficult and adversarial political situation. Due to this situation, Palestinians had left their homes and some of them fled to the West Bank. Refugee camps were formed, many of which still exist today. Those camps have the structure and size of small towns, but with a fragile infrastructure. Unemployment rates are high and the population rising rapidly.
As a region as well as a state, Palestine has a rich, long and tumultuous history where religion, culture, commerce, and politics intersect. For more information, please refer to this article (German).
University of Siegen in Germany
The University of Siegen was founded in the city of Siegen in 1972. It is located centrally in the Siegerland – in an area that is bordering the three German federal states of Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatine. Founded as a comprehensive university, the University of Siegen brings together theoretical and practical training, as well as a regional approach in its study programmes and research. It strives for equal opportunities and enhanced permeability in the educational system. Today the University of Siegen hosts more than 19.000 students in a variety of degree programmes across four different faculties. More than 11% of the students come from other countries.
The Siegerland has a long history of iron mining and working, dating back to 600 BC. Today, the region is still known for a strong metal working industry, but also promotes itself as a touristic area, and as a source of minerals and fossils.
For several years now, existing collaboration between the University of Birzeit and the University of Siegen has focused on the establishment and attendance of computer clubs in Palestinian refugee camps. These clubs are directed towards children and youth as well as their parents, and are still being maintained today to encounter some of the socio-cultural challenges in the camps. The clubs are built on the experience from over ten years of project work in intercultural computer clubs in different cities in Germany.
The University of Siegen, Fab Lab Siegen and members of the Palestinian hacker and maker culture are also connected via the Global Innovation Gathering. This worldwide network of innovation hub managers, hackers and entrepreneurs played an important role for YALLAH by providing inspiration, methods and tools as well as a deep sharing culture.