RLS PALESTINE PROGRAM
In dealing with social and political change processes, the question of education is of major interest. What kind of education is necessary to prepare and strengthen people to kick-start social and political change? Emancipatory education is an approach that goes beyond the simple transfer of knowledge, and questions the given structure of socio-economic and political relations altogether supporting people not only to demand a different world, but also to discuss and prepare for alternatives. But what is emancipatory, critical leftist education and what makes educational approaches emancipatory? How should education be conceptualized, organized and conveyed in order to have an emancipatory impact? How should the role of educators change and how should the settings and the methodologies be structured in order to hinder the reproduction of hierarchical and dominating structures and elements? In the Palestinian context of occupation, economic dependency, enormous socio-economic change processes and stratifications on the one hand and traditional, hierarchical teaching-learning structures on the other hand, the topic becomes even more challenging. RLS cooperates with Palestinian organizations, educators and artists who are using a variety of tools to support critical thinking approaches as well as the activation and participation of people fostering the development of a democratic progressive Palestinian society.
The Palestinian society is characterised by a whole bunch of fragmentations, geographically, politically, socio-economically, to name only the most striking. While all aspects are equally relevant, it is the socio-economic fragmentation, e.g. the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the decreasing social solidarity, the relationships between the cities, rural areas, and refugee camps that raises further interest. Resulting from a complex combination of the colonial setting and the neoliberal character of international and domestic policies, the socio-economic fragmentation of Palestinian society is increasingly challenged by social activists, researchers and progressive political parties. Focusing on a selection of topics in this field, e.g. social security policies and social urban development, RLS supports civil society organisations as well as social activists and policy experts in addressing socio-economic fragmentation in the public and political debate and develop and pressure for progressive alternative approaches for social inclusion.
Due to decades of occupation the economic development of Palestine is severely hindered. Today more than twenty years after the signing of the Oslo-agreements, the economic situation has even significantly deteriorated and the Palestinian Territories are among the most aid-dependent places worldwide. Occupation and closure, donor driven aid paradigms as well as the neoliberal character of Palestinian domestic economic policies, leave only a small space for thinking and doing alternatives. However, this space should be used and challenged in order to break off the circle of dependency and to strengthen the capacities for self-determination and change. After years of academic research on the topic, RLS partners with local initiatives and cooperatives who challenge economic dependency through a debate on alternatives at community, national and international level and who practically implement progressive alternative approaches in the country.
Based on the specific situation of the Gaza Strip, a public debate about urgent questions and challenges as well as about futures scenarios regarding the Gaza Strip is of high relevance. To include a variety of social groups in this process, in particular those who eventually are marginalized from participation in public debate, e.g. youth and women, RLS supports various progressive formats of activation and communication approaches, such as media and art.
Climate change is one of the very highlighted topics that is affecting the whole world, but has an even greater impact in Palestine where natural resources have been systematically destroyed and detained. Addressing climate change through inter-agency coordination, professional relationships between community leaders and government officials, will help in better understanding possible effects of climate change and enhancing the ability to face it more effectively.