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On Thursday, March 14, 2019, Professor Maher Natsheh, Acting President of An-Najah ‎received at his office a distinguished academic delegation from the Queen's University Belfast ‎in Ireland represented by Professor. Paul Connolly, ‎Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research ‎and Enterprise, and Shimon Fitzpatrick to sign an MOU regarding implementing joint ‎development projects and programmes on Early Childhood.‎

The agreement aims to reinforce the cooperation between the Palestinian Child Institute at the ‎University and the LINKS research network at Queen’s University Belfast regarding developing ‎future programmes supporting the development and evaluation of early childhood.‎

Professor Natsheh thanked the delegation for their visit and expressed hope that ‎they will ‎establish cooperation in many joint research and programmes. ‎He also mentioned that despite ‎the difficult political situations Palestine is ‎going through, An-Najah was able to progress in ‎terms of international ‎academic rankings.‎

Professor Connolly said: “We are delighted to sign this MOU with the Palestinian Child ‎Institute at An-Najah University, and to include Palestine as one of our partner countries in the ‎LINKS research network.‎

‎“Our team is already working with researchers and ECD specialists in six countries which have ‎experienced ethnic conflict and divisions including: Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Tajikistan, ‎Timor-Leste and Vietnam to evaluate and develop new ECD services. This is part of our wider ‎plan to extend our network over the coming years to include other countries affected by ‎conflict.‎

‎“We look forward to working with colleagues at The Palestinian Child Institute and to help ‎make a positive contribution, not just to sustainable development and economic growth, but to ‎help build social cohesion and peace.”‎

Dr Ali Shaar, Director of the Palestinian Child Institute at An-Najah, said: “We very much ‎welcome this opportunity to work with the team from Queen’s University Belfast as part of the ‎wider LINKS research network. Queen’s has established itself as one of the world leaders in the ‎field of research into ECD and peacebuilding.‎

‎ “Our children in Palestine have suffered significantly due to the ongoing conflict here. This is ‎shown by the high levels of special needs and disabilities amongst our child population and the ‎significant levels of developmental delay. Our work with Queen’s will focus on developing ‎high-quality and effective ECD services for children to begin to address these needs. The ‎collaboration will also contribute to building research capacity amongst our team in the ‎Institute.”‎


The NIHR Global Health Research Group on Early Childhood Development for Peacebuilding ‎or LINKS, is a global research network led by the Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation ‎‎(CESI) at Queen’s, along with partners UNICEF, Yale, Harvard and New York University.‎

The network is part of the international Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) hosted by ‎UNICEF and seeks to support the development and evaluation of ECD programmes in societies ‎affected by conflict.‎

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