Lifelong Learning in Palestine :Opening Meeting – Amman




Lifelong Learning in Palestine

Opening Meeting – Amman


25th – 26th Novemnber 2011


The meeting was convened in Amman because it was the place where all the participants could meet from both the West Bank and Gaza.  The Larsa Hotel was by far the best deal at rates well inside the budget.  The hospitality of the staff proved to be excellent and the meeting room facilities with internet connections perfect.  Throughout the two days consortium members communicated with colleagues in their different universities through the internet.




Keith Hammond – Scotland

Alison Phipps – Scotland

Raid Zaghal – Al Quds

Moussa Rabadi – Bethlehem

Yousef Najajreh – Al Quds

Abdelkader Boutaleb -  Scotland

Josephine Finn – Ireland

Anne Ryan – Ireland

Nur Masalha – St Mary’s London

Peter Mayo – Malta

Olga Albatran - Birzeit




First day …


·         Introductions


Strengths of the consortium

Overview of Tempus

Commitments of Lifelong Learning in Palestine: What we are contracted to do …

Outline of the overall project



·         Palestinian partners presentations


·         Moussa Rabadi – the aims of the Community Partnerships in Bethlehem.

·         Raid Zaghal – the aims of the Jerusalem Centre at Al Quds and its other Centres in the Old City.

·         Hala El-Khozandar – the aims and purpose of Community involvement at the Islamic University of Gaza.

·         Olga Albatran – overview of Continuing Education in Birzeit.


The aim of this session was to acquaint everyone in the consortium with knowledge of work already being done in the four Palestinian universities.  Comments and discussion came from everyone noting the strengths of the range of practices stretching across Bethlehem, Ramallah, Al quds and Gaza City.  Of particular note were some of the geographical problems coming out of the impact of the Israeli occupation that after 2002 had changed the conditions of education and work.  This led to different regional and community problems for the establishment of Lifelong Learning in Palestine.


·         Lifelong Learning and the aims of a knowledge-based society.


The nature of the work already being done was discussed in relation to key European documents.  Of particular importance were networks of learning opportunities that would link learners and the university providers.  Establishing these connections and interconnections would be a constant problem on the West Bank - also a problem in connecting the practices of the West Bank to those in Gaza.   The importance of communication amongst all the consortium members was underlined.  The use of IT and Skype.


A specific point emerged around the indigenous conditions of Palestinian learning.  There was a clear consensus that nothing ‘European’ would be just applied in Palestine.  Whatever approach to Lifelong Learning emerged in the six work packages, it would come out of the Palestinian collective memory, history, employment and general economic conditions, along with a well defined culture that would be respected at every move.   


Also whatever the strengths of this project, they would have to be driven by the energy coming out of working together in close collaborations.  That meant always acknowledging difference.  The right to learn at any age would have to be embedded in the entire six work packages.  Lots of communication.


·         Globalization and the new conditions of work and learning.


It was noted that the production of new knowledge required networks of people involved in the exchange of information constantly.   Nothing was ‘discovered’ in isolation and nothing could be applied outside of the social reality that was already there in Palestine.  That reality contained a memory that had to be similarly respected along with the Arabic language.


This demanded that Lifelong Learning in Palestine work in close collaboration.  The sharing of knowledge and skills would be the driving force.  Much of this would be facilitated by the Arabic/English interactive website.  The website would act as a medium between the English langage on one side and the Arabic on the other.  This was especially needed after events throughout the Arab world in 2011.  What happens in Palestine is important for the Arabic speaking peoples.  So the impact of this project would be throughout the Middle East and North Africa.


·         Accounting for the purchase of equipment, staff time and travel.


In order to carry out all the visits and practical tasks there would have to be the minimum of time spent on form filling and accounting.  But it was noted that these things had to be got right and the appropriate documents maintained for Europe.  This would be overseen by Mr Derek Motherwell in Glasgow.


Any unsure form filling procedures could be checked with Mr Motherwell.  He would advise.  Funds would be released into the different consortium babk accounts on receiving all the required returns rounghly every six months.


At the end of the first day a number of points emerged:


·         There was an ongoing military occupation that could not be denied in the work.  Checkpoints and the closure of Gaza could not be overlooked.

·         There was a huge range of skills and expertise in the consortium that gave confidence to the project. 

·         Palestinian partners were already doing many things that were examples of Lifelong Learning activities.

·         The whole consortium entailed a respect for Palestinian practices that would inform all aspects of the project.

·         Globalization and the fast emerging imperatives of a knowledge-based economic reality shaped learning.

·         Communication technology used to the maximum and the Tempus Office in Ramallah to be kept in picture.

·         The demands of accounting for time and travel had to be carried out according to the ‘Guidelines for the Use of the Grant’ already in circulation along with ‘Convention for Staff Costs’ and ‘Individual Mobility Report’.

·         Derek Motherwell would be authorized to release finances in instalments.

·         This was not ‘just another’ European project.


Second day …


·         First work package – Development


First work package has three basic components:


1.      Literature review,

2.      Development and administration of benchmarking tool;

3.      Development of website.

To be completed by March 2012.


Agreed that all partners would be looking for relevant literature – especially Palestinian partners.  Documents of specific relevance would be circulated.  These would be in a number of places but most likely to be on-line – Arabic and English.


Palestinian colleagues arranged to become members of Glasgow University Library so that they could gain electronic access to a major stock.  To do this they would be made Associate Researchers in the School of education.


An outline of the benchmarking purpose and how it is put together as a development tool.   The need for it to validate levels of practice not just across Palestine but also according to a modality that makes the measurement comparible with broader international measures.  A lot of discussion on benchmarking: how it functioned and so forth.  Staff time discussed.  Noted that this would be the first such exercise in Palestinian Higher education.  Its

importance for capacity building could not be overstated.


Website to be set up by IUG in Gaza.  Close collaboration with all other partners.


·         Second work package – Development – Leadership materials


Based upon reports of needs ‘on the ground’ in Gaza and West Bank.  Ireland to visit and review situation with Palestinian colleagues and Glasgow to do the same in collaboration with IUG in gaza.


Focus on cultural and community needs, economic needs and pedagogical concerns raised by stakeholders (organizaions of civil society) in both locations.


Training packs to be produced by both teams and a national leadership training pack by end of June.


·         Third work package – Exploitation


This will be the most labour intensive work package.  It will involve workshops and following through events to embed learning so far …


The workshops will exploit findings of benchmarking, community assessments and leadership materials.  They will be organized in all four university areas, focusing on culture, economic development, social development and a Lifelong Learning ‘national’ strategy for Palestine.


The success of this exploitation stage will be dependent on the early development work packages being completed well and the findings put to work in practices in and around the university areas.

This work package will be concluded with a focus on European structures that might be drawn upon to consolidate practices in different European networks and networks emerging throughout the Arab world.


Briefing papers will be co-authored and video conferencing and podcasts will exploit the findings up to April 2013.


Thereafter there will follow the


·         Quality Plan work package – to begin in May 2013.

·         Dissemination work package

·         Management work package


All the dates and leadership details were referred to in the Logical Framework of the Project papers.  This framework would be the reference point – the scaffolding for the plan of actions.


Discussion throughout


Contributions throughout the second day came from every member of the consortium.  The discussion moved far fast.  Points related, in the main, to specific details of activities, and contribution to the overall aims and objectives  of the project, along with expected dates of delivery.  Peter Mayo stressed the importance of ongoing pedagogical issues and Nur Masalha raised the importance of culture and history as the ground for all the different activities.

The unique situation of Palestine as an occupied people came up constantly and how the project could progress outside of the physical restraints on Centres like those in the Old City of Jerusalem.  It was recognized that the occupation would often impact on what we were doing.  The issue of Palestinian suffering and the problem of the ongoing injustice thus came up constantly.


Quality assurance


Quality assurance would be handled by a group of individuals approached specifically for the purpose of reviewing the project and ensuring its progress.  These people would have experience of Lifelong Learning and Tempus projects.  Pat Davies in France would be contacted and various European agencies.  The Tempus Office would be kept in the picture. 


Ketso Learning Kits


The second day was concluded late into the evening with a demonstration of the way Ketso kits worked.  Participants were divided into two groups and thinking on the purpose and objectives of Lifelong Learning in Palestine was the subject of the enquiries.

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