1. Terminology

2. Typology of provision

2.1 State education provision 

2.2 Non-state education provision 

2.3 Other types of schools 

3. Governance and regulations

3.1 Regulations by distinct levels of education

3.3 Supplementary private tutoring 

  1. Terminology

The 2017 Palestinian Law for Education (Art. 1) that a “private educational institution” is “every licenced non-governmental educational institution that educates students according to Palestinian curricula.” Moreover, “foreign educational institution” refers to “every licenced non-governmental educational institution that teaches students according to wholly non-Palestinian curricula, or mostly non-Palestinian curricula.” The Law does not refer explicitly to “non-state actors”.

The Ministry of Education (2020) defines “private” preschool as “any national preschool owned by individuals, societies, institutions, companies or religious bodies, licenced by the Palestinian Ministry of Education”.

  1. Typology of provision

2.1 State education provision

State schools

In Palestine (West Bank and Gaza), most schools in primary education (9 years beginning at age 5 and 7 months) and secondary education (3 years beginning at age 15) are state schools. In 2020, 73,6% of schools were state schools.

State schools are free and compulsory up to the 10th grade; basic education is also available to all registered refugee children free of charge up to around the age of 15. The primary stage of Basic Education (grades 1-4) is known as the preparation stage. The second stage of Basic Education (grades 5-9) is known as the empowerment stage. Grades 11 and 12 are optional: students have the choice to enter general secondary education or attend vocational secondary schools.

Government schools are primarily funded by the state. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) receives support and funding from United Nations (UN) agencies and other aid groups that form the Education Cluster Coordination.

Non-state managed, state schools

No information was found. 

Non-state funded, state schools

The MoEHE works with varied aid agencies and groups that form the Education Cluster Coordination to “address the issues relating to education in emergencies.” State schools receive support from Cluster members such as United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in areas including psycho-social support, remedial learning, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and infrastructure. For example, “donors can directly support the Ministry of Education (MoE) to be able to construct and renovate latrines and water points and purchase hygiene and cleaning packages. Other partners can offer support through direct implementation in their targeted schools in coordination with the Ministry.” Also, “specialized partners can support the remedial education programs for vulnerable children and support in organizing fun and recreational days at schools.”

2.2 Non-state education provision

Independent, non-state schools

Private schools (including international schools) are independent non-state schools. In 2020, 14,3% of schools were private. The 2017 Education Law is the guiding policy for regulating private school establishment and licensure. Approximately 15% of schools are private.

State-funded (government-aided), non-state schools

No information was found.

Contracted, non-state schools

No information was found. 

2.3 Other types of schools


No regulation was found.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of schools throughout Palestine. Teachers and students relied on e-platforms and home-learning.

Market contracted (Voucher schools)

No information was found.

Unregistered/Unrecognized schools

In 2015, there were at least 212 unlicenced kindergartens in Gaza or approximately one-third of all kindergartens. In parallel, Latin schools also constitute most Catholic and Christian schools in Palestine. In 2017, there were 13 non-state Catholic and Christian schools in which a majority of Muslim students were enrolled and which also serve a small number of Christian students. These schools are not recognised by the state. The authorities in these countries, however, provide textbooks and grants for specific programmes in these schools.

Aid-based (UNRWA) schools

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a major provider of non-governmental education in the West Bank and Gaza. 58% of the UNRWA’s budget is allocated for education. UNRWA allocates funds through varied mechanisms including voluntary contributions by over 40 state governments, funding mechanisms with international financing institutions, and also personal Zakat and Ramadan contributions. As the main provider of services to Palestine refugee children in Gaza, UNRWA plays a major role in the advancement of the rights of children to be protected from violence and in promoting a peaceful and child-centred society. In the West Bank, UNRWA provides basic education, with capacity for grades one through nine in 96 schools, attended by approximately 46,310 children. In 2020, 12,2% of schools in Palestine were UNRWA schools. 274 UNRWA schools are attended by approximately 278,991 Palestinian children in Gaza that provide education through grades 1-9. 70% of UNRWA schools in Gaza operate in double or triple shifts and follow the MoEHE’s curriculum. These schools are guided by UN values orientation through the “Human Rights, Conflict Resolution, and Tolerance Programme.”

  1. Governance and regulations

The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) oversees education in state schools, UNRWA schools and private schools including pre-primary schools. It is responsible for the regulation of non-state provision of education either directly or indirectly and is supported by other non-state partners such as those in the Education Coordination Cluster. The MoEHE also undertakes the supervision and follow-up of the private and foreign primary and secondary educational institutions. However, no department, division or agency on private or non-state provision under the MoEHE was found.

Palestine has a centralized education system. The MoEHE consists of 41 administrative units at the central levels for both West Bank and Gaza. 22 units are at the level of Directorate General; the higher education sub-sector has five technical units; general education sub-sector has 12; additionally, five administrative and financial Directorates-General serve both the general education and the higher education sub-sectors. At the district level, 21 Directorates of Education assume some responsibility.

The 1998 Law on Higher Education No. 11 combines two approaches: central national planning and supervision by MoEHE and the Council for Higher Education (CHE) and self-management, self-monitoring and self-control at the institutional level. The Council of Higher Education is responsible for drafting and enacting the rules that all higher education institutions must adopt, including management information systems at the institutional level.

Finally, the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs is one of the governmental institutions active in the Palestinian society. It supports the opening of Quran memorization centres and, religious education institutions and currently includes the General Directorate of Forensic Education.

Vision: The 2017-22 Education Sector Strategic Plan states that its vision is “a society where governmental, non-governmental and private organizations can work together to provide quality education at all levels.” It aims to “ensure safe, inclusive, and equitable access to quality education at all levels of the system” and “increasing the number of licenced private preschools”.

3.1 Regulations by distinct levels of education

Preschools as either private or public (Education Law, 2017). The private sector and/or civil society organizations establish private preschools and are administered by individuals, associations or Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). In West Bank and Gaza, kindergarten is almost exclusively offered by private providers. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) introduced the public provision of kindergarten (year 2) in 2012, which reached 10% of the total provision in 2018 (146 classrooms). In 2018, the private sector offered 90% of KG2 services, with 1,116 licenced private providers spread across all governorates. In the private sector, 78% of KG2 classrooms were registered and 12% were not. In 2020, there was a total of 2,017 kindergartens (1,332 in the West Bank, and 685 in Gaza). The two-year pre-school education stage is not compulsory. The one year of preschool education (KG2, sometimes called Grade 0) is compulsory (Education Law, 2017).

The 2017-22 Education Sector Strategy states that the Ministry “urges the private sector to invest in early childhood sector.”


Registration and approval: The Ministry establishes kindergartens and centres for training and qualifying teachers/caretakers based on criteria determined by a decision of the minister (Education Law, 2017, Art. 7).  The procedure of licensing a preschool begins with an application from the preschool owner to the Directorate of Education. Then, a visit is conducted by the preschool Supervisor and Engineer of the Directorate of Education to which the licensing application was submitted. An examination under the responsibility of the Directorate of Education and the Ministry of Health will assess the situation of the preschool to be licenced, including the infrastructures. The 2020/21 Licensing Instruction for Private Schools states that documents needed to register include a good conduct certificate of owner; a leasing contract and a registration certificate of charitable society or private company (if it applies).

Licence: Kindergartens are obligated to obtain a licence from the Ministry. In this regard, the minister provides the necessary instructions for the conditions for licensing kindergartens and regulating them in terms of administrative and technical terms. When the preschool completes all licensing requirements supported by documents, a one-year licence shall be issued to the preschool that is renewable annually” (Education Law, 2017, Art. 7).

Financial operation

Profit-making: The 2017 Education Law does not limit profit-making.

Taxes and subsidies: A tax is imposed “in proportion to the net rental value established under the Building and Land Tax Law within the municipal areas, village councils, gatherings in residential areas, and Bedouin areas. The (Education Tax) is collected from the owner of any property, whether it is an owner or a tenant. The collection and administration of the education tax and its expenditure shall be regulated by a special system issued by the Council Ministers” (Education Law, 2017, Art. 48).

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum and education standards: Private preschools follow the Palestinian curriculum. The Ministry of Education grants and renews the licence of private preschools, based on the schools’ commitment to the Palestinian curriculum of the Ministry of Education.

The kindergarten stage aims to achieve the following: “Providing an environment that contributes to the value of the physical, mental, emotional and social aspects of the child's personality, and prepares him or her for enrollment in the primary stage; Training the child in basic life skills, and providing him or her with sound healthy habits; Familiarizing the child with the evidence surrounding him or her, and providing adequate opportunities to develop his or her abilities” (Education Law, 2017, Art. 8). The Palestinian Curriculum in the Preschool Education is an inclusive and comprehensive learning curriculum that promotes gender equality and is based on learning through playing within a (daily routine) system that uses the Palestinian environment. It promotes the Palestinian national identity.

Teaching profession: Teachers in both state and non-state schools should have “at least a diploma and have taken a comprehensive exam in a teaching major. It is preferable that the teacher would have passed the pedagogical rehabilitation diploma.” In the 2017 Professional Standards for Kindergarten Teachers, the Ministry states that “teachers must have cognitive and specialized qualifications that allow a person to belong to a specific professional community and adhere to the professional standards for kindergarten teachers”. The document also states that kindergarten teachers have the right to development courses, continuous mentoring and counselling and the rights stipulated in the labour and workers law.

The number of foreign administrative and educational staff in the preschool should not exceed 50 % of the total number of employees. The 2020/21 Licensing Instruction for Private Schools states that the contract must outline the teacher's rights concerning maternity and annual leaves, sick leaves and any other rights, including monthly salary and any other benefits.

No additional information was found on salaries and the hiring and firing of teachers.

Equitable access

Fee-setting: The annual fees of registered children “may not exceed the projected annual increase percentage in the cost of living issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, unless the preschool obtains an approval in writing from the MoE to increase the fees” providing reasonable justification (Licensing Instruction for Private Schools, 2020). In the licensing granting/renewal application, the preschool shall declare the annual fees earned from children and it shall be fully committed to such fees. The non-state preschool may also “implement meaningful pedagogical and recreational activities free or semi-free of charge.” Through a written approved request to the Ministry with justifications, the preschool can “exceptionally raise the fees by no more than 5% once every five years at least”. Finally, the non-state preschool and the Parents Board have to “adhere to the mechanism agreed upon to pay the annual fees, and such a mechanism may not be changed unless the two parties agree”.

Admission selection and processes: The private preschool “may not reject the admission of any student for political, religious, sectarian or class reasons; the private preschool shall adopt the integration of children with disabilities in KG1 and KG2 classes (as many as possible); the private preschool, as part of social responsibility, shall provide facilities according to its capabilities to accept orphans and children of martyrs, prisoners and the wounded” (Licensing Instruction for Private Schools, 2020). In addition, the preschool children shall be registered based on the original birth certificate and the preschool shall keep a duplicated copy thereof and a copy of the vaccination booklet of each child.

Policies for vulnerable groups: The 2017-22 National Strategy for early childhood development and intervention states that one of its interventions will be to “identify poor population groups who are on the list of Ministry of Social Development (MOSD) social assistance to subsidize kindergarten registration fees as part of the social assistance package” and to “encourage NGOs and civil society organizations to establish kindergartens in poor and marginalized areas.”

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

Reporting requirements: The first Palestinian national curriculum framework for kindergarten education in May 2016 states that actors need toreporting and consulting the competent authorities for any problems that may affect the safety of children and their mental health”.

Inspection: Local coordination meetings are “held between the directorate and service providers, in order to monitor the situation of the preschools and share experiences for some projects implemented in the preschools.”

Child assessment: Children are not to be given tests and should only be assessed on their development using modern methods of education.

Sanctions: In case of violation of the provisions by private and foreign educational institutions, the Government has the right to revoke their licence (Education Law, 2017, Art. 49).



Registration and approval: The conditions for establishing a private and foreign educational institution, and the procedures for licensing it, are determined in accordance with the law issued by the Council of Ministers. With regard to infrastructure, a private and foreign educational institution must have independent headquarters. In addition, new facilities may not be added without prior notice. Furthermore, the housing may not be established inside the private and foreign educational institution and the educational institution’s location may not be changed except by a decision of the minister (Education Law, 2017, Art. 15).

Licence: A private and foreign educational institution must obtain a licence from the Ministry before its establishment (Education Law, 2017, Art. 15). In addition, the minister issues a decision to licence a private and foreign educational institution (Art. 16). The licence shall be in the name of the owner of the institution. The application for establishing and licensing a private and foreign educational institution is submitted to the directorate in the educational zone, at least six months before the start of the school year. The Ministry is obligated to respond in writing to the request within 30 days from the date of submission, and if the request is rejected, the rejection decision must be announced. Finally, the decision issued to refuse the application to establish a private educational institution is subject to appeal before the Supreme Court of Justice. No info can be found on differences for individuals or societies regarding licensing and registration.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): WASH in schools in Gaza and West Bank is supported by the Education Cluster Coordination. The 2020/21 Education Cluster Strategy aims to respond to WASH needs.

Financial operation

Profit-making: Unofficial sources suggest that the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) does not limit profit-making for private schools and that private school fees for both non-profit and for-profit schools are high. Students do not pay fees to attend UNRWA schools.

Taxes and subsidies: No regulation on tax/fiscal incentives and or subsidies for non-state actors to establish or operate a non-state institution was found. A tax “is imposed in proportion to the net rental value established under the Building and Land Tax Law within the municipal areas, village councils, gatherings in residential areas, and Bedouin areas. The education tax is collected from the owner of any property, whether it is an owner or a tenant” (Education Law, 2017, Art. 48).

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum and education standards: Non-state and foreign educational institutions are required to confirm their “adherence” to the educational conditions and standards specified by the Ministry. They have to take into account the abilities and needs of the students. Non-state educational institutions must also enrol in curricula determined by the Ministry like government educational institutions (Education Law, 2017, Art. 17).

Private and foreign educational facilities may teach more than one foreign language. In addition, they may modify or adapt the curricula provided that they obtain written approval from the Ministry (Art. 18).

In the West Bank, the UNRWA Curriculum Framework was introduced in 2013.

Textbooks and learning materials: Private educational institutions must use the textbooks determined by the Ministry. It is only with written approval obtained from the Ministry that they can add other textbooks (Education Law, 2017, Art. 17-18). UNRWA has also been engaged in reviewing the State of Palestine textbooks since 2016 and has undertaken five reviews to date. The textbooks are reviewed against three key criteria: neutrality/bias; gender; and age-appropriateness.

Teaching profession: The MoEHE requires teachers to have both a university degree and a professional teaching qualification “relevant to their teaching subject(s) and the grade level(s) being taught to qualify for a ‘licence to practice.

All teachers must be licenced by the Ministry, take an oath before the authorities of the Ministry, and respect the rules and ethics of the profession (Education Law, 2017, Art. 27). Moreover, it is forbidden to employ in an educational institution a person who has committed a crime or misdemeanour, unless that person has been rehabilitated. In addition, “everyone working in education shall abide by the ethics of the teaching profession issued by the MoEHE, and the Code of Conduct issued by the Council of Ministers” (Art. 31-32).

In the West Bank, UNRWA has implemented the Agency-wide Education Reform Strategy, which includes teacher professional development. In the West Bank, teachers’ classroom practices are being improved through the School-Based Teacher Development (SBTD I and II) programmes.

Corporal punishment: Corporal punishment is unlawful in UNRWA schools and in East Jerusalem, however, no current legislation exists to “clearly prohibit corporal punishment” in all education settings, at all levels of education, throughout the State of Palestine.

Other safety measures and COVID-19: The MoEHE released a National Response Plan for COVID 19 in 2020 which included all schools in West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Equitable access

Fee-setting: The Ministry does not regulate fees.

Admission selection and processes: Private and foreign educational institutions are obligated to respect the legal age for admission of students (Education Law, 2017, Art. 17).

Policies for vulnerable groups: The Ministry must adopt an inclusive education policy that meets the needs of all students, by providing: quality education for students most at risk of exclusion and marginalization, such as students with disabilities; school buildings, educational resources, and qualified education staff; and appropriate educational curricula and evaluation mechanisms that are flexible and responsive to the individual needs of the student, in order to provide him or her with quality education. This policy would apply to both the state and non-state sectors (Education Law, 2017, Art. 14).

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

School board: No information was found.

Reporting requirements: UNRWA schools are accountable to uphold the United Nations values in the curriculum and are reviewed by donors.

School inspection: No information was found.

Student assessment: Non-state educational institutions may prepare any of their students for the examinations for foreign certificates that are equivalent to the high school diploma, after obtaining the written approval from the Ministry (Education Law, 2017, Art. 18).

Diplomas and degrees: Recognised private schools are allowed to award the General Secondary Education Certificate (Tawjihi), or its equivalents, such as GCE certificates I.B , SAT , Abitur, and Baccalaureate, to high school students.

Sanctions: In the same way as for ECCE, in case of violation of the provisions by private and foreign educational institutions, the Government has the right to revoke their licence (Education Law, 2017, Art. 49).

Tertiary education institutions include universities, university colleges, polytechnics and community colleges. There are 11 governmental, 17 public, 17 private, and 4 UNRWA higher education institutions in Palestine.


Registration and approval: Registration and approval are carried out by the Council for Higher Education under the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE). Accreditation is carried out by the Accreditation and Quality Assurance Commission (AQAC) which is “a member of several international networks for quality assurance, such as the International Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (INQAAHE) and the Arab Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ANQAHE). In this context, the AQAC negotiates cooperation agreements with regional and international quality agencies for the mutual recognition of accreditation decisions and degrees. External quality assurance evaluation is compulsory as part of the accreditation process and applies to public and private institutions, university and non-university sectors and all types of academic programmes. Accreditation generally involves a self-evaluation, resulting in a report that takes all the AQAC standards as a reference. No additional regulations were found for the required infrastructure.

Licence: The licence granted gives the legal entity/personality the right to establish a private higher education institution. The licence is effective for a maximum period of three years. The 2017-22 Education Sector Strategic Plan stipulates that the state should only grant licences to higher education institutions that meet the needs of society.

Financial operation

Profit-making: Non-state universities are independent, including with regard to their budget and the management of profits (Law on Higher Education No. 11, 1998). Public institutions are non-profit but receive public funding.

Taxes and subsidies: Non-state universities receive no state funding. They are financed by entities such as foundations, charitable societies, religious denominations, individuals and companies.

Quality of teaching and learning

Curriculum and education standards: The university curricula are defined at the institutional level in line with the national standards set by the Ministry. All students in the first year are required to take an English course. Courses in English language and literature, science and mathematics are taught in English, as are courses in some disciplines such as nursing, business, political science and cultural studies in some Palestinian state and non-state universities.

Teaching profession: Academic staff “must have a master’s or doctoral degree. The Palestinian Federation of University Unions of Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) established in 1988 represents teachers in West Bank and Gaza. In 2020, academic staff were required to teach 12 hours per week.

Equitable access

Fee-setting: Non-state universities rely on students’ tuition. The Ministry does not regulate fee-setting.

Admission selection and processes: Higher education institutions follow roughly the same procedures. To enrol in an institution, one must hold a General Secondary Education Certificate (Tawjihi) or its equivalent (e.g. the International Baccalaureate (IB), the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) or the General Certificate of Education (GCE). Admission of first-year students is usually based on a competition organised by each university. Some universities also impose an English language test.

Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability

Board: Universities have adopted a governance structure that includes a Senate or Academic Council, which has final authority over educational matters. Academic staff also make up 50 % of the governing boards of universities.

Reporting requirements: Institutions have internal reporting mechanisms and data collection mechanisms on teaching performance.

Inspection: The AQAC carries out inspections and provides final judgments on the basis of a given set of criteria concerning quality.” No further information was found on the types of sanctions imposed.

Student assessment: Higher education institutions are responsible for the assessment of students (Law on Higher Education No. 11, 1998).

Diplomas and degrees: Non-state higher education institutes have the autonomy to grant degrees and diplomas.

Sanctions: The decision to close an institution is made through a review by the AQAC Board of Directors based on a given set of quality criteria.

3.3 Supplementary private tutoring


No information was found. 

Financial operation and quality

No information was found. 

Teaching profession

No information was found. 


This profile has been drafted by the Al Qasimi Foundation to support the PEER evidence base for the 2021/2 GEM Report on non-state actors in education.

Last modified:

Tue, 12/09/2023 - 14:41