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LINKS and An-Najah University to collaborate on Early Childhood Development programmes

The LINKS research network at Queen’s University Belfast and the Palestinian Child Institute at An-Najah University in Palestine have announced they are to collaborate on future programmes supporting the development and evaluation of early childhood

An-Najah University

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.

The Queen’s team, led by Professor Paul Connolly, LINKS Director and Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at Queen’s University, recently visited Nablus, Palestine, to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with An-Najah National University, the largest university in Palestine.

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, 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.”


Professor Paul Connolly
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