Sustainability does not just mean that we maintain what has been achieved on the LLIP project.  It means we also re-affirm points of the project in subsequent practices.  For instance Bethlehem affirmed in its impact return that the University website was being overhauled to include something on the LLIP and the way it had developed in the region.  They are to include lifelong learning in their mission statement.  All this furthers sustainability.


The Society of Women Graduates in Gaza said they discussed lifelong learning far more in their meetings.  This is one of the best ways of sustaining lifelong learning.  New possibilities will emerge for furthering the work, this needs to be discussed in meetings.  Interventions in local agendas, regional agendas and of course the national and international agenda.  Language is a medium of great generative power.  Through simply putting lifelong learning on agendas, the project is talked about; the issue of lifelong learning is considered, furthered and therefore developed.  All this is sustainability.


Lifelong learning work that has broader significance beyond the place where it occurs needs to be disseminated if it is to be sustained.  This was the danger, as we saw it, with work in Gaza done by the Society of Women Graduates and the Community Action Center in the Old City of Jerusalem.  Both these organizations work on equality – equality is important in lifelong learning – and equality is foundational to lifelong learning.  It is easy to see how the work in CAC entails equality.  The connection between law, equality and issues of access, whether it is access to legal remedies or educational activities are denied many Palestinians in Jerusalem.  The deprivation is visible enough.  But there is no way that lifelong learning can broaden opportunities for education and training without it saying very clearly that ‘everyone’ has a right to participate in education and training throughout life.  Who is going to make this clear?  This is where the work in CAC and the Women’s Society comes in.  Both organizations focus on equality issues.  So the work in these two locations needs to link that work directly into global agendas, like that of lifelong learning, so that future funding can be secured and their work continued.   Work that does not have a presence will not be easy to sustain.  


Linking practice to existent policies …


There are policies in place that are in agreement with what we have been trying to do.  For instance the National Report of Palestine by Ghadeer Fannoun (2008), written in his capacity as Head of Non-formal Education Division of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education gave a five-year plan on access, improving quality, linking formal and non-formal education, raising the standards of management and planning around improved management, administration and finance.  The aim is given as overall improvements across a whole range of human resources.  It is on … - accessed online at 8th September 2013.


Education is described (p7) as …


·       A human right …

·       A basic component of citizenship …

·       A medium for social and economic development …

·       The basis of social and moral values …

·       A continuous lifelong process …


The plan notes the need for working across formal and informal institutions to build a national learning infrastructure covering all areas of Palestinian life.  und learning culture.  But the plan moves operational directives exclusively into formal education and the idea of education as a lifelong process falls from the frame.  Education as part of the national liberation movement just disappears. 

Nonetheless, this report shows that the aims of lifelong learning have a precedent in policy thinking going back to the period immediately following the first Intifada.  


The Palestinian Authority’s Education Sector and Cross-Sector Strategy (2010) has a much more detailed account of planning in the education sector –  - draft accessed online at 8th August 2013.  But there is no subsequent document following this draft on line.  Higher education is covered in the third section with ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ points.  Amongst the former are an increase in female students taking up college and university places.  Similarly there is an increase in the number of students moving towards scientific research and the development of an overarching Accreditation and Quality Commission.  Section 5-2 of this document gives the following as goals:


1.     Increasing the demand for higher education amongst the lower socioeconomic sector;

2.     Learning outcomes in higher education of relevance to the local, regional and societal demands in the labor market;

3.     Sustaining more consistent sources of funding to cover operational costs that allow for a more consistent development of the universities;

4.     Upgrading research capacities to meet the demands of economic and social development;

5.     Reforming the administration and governance of higher education;

6.     Improving quality control; and

7.     Improving the quality and size of vocational and technical education.


This document links access issues to local and regional labor market demands, it claims more research should be done, generating new sources of funding.  The benchmarking results in the early stages of the LLIP project supported this claim, showing there to be a need for this to be done in relation to regional engagement.  Regional engagement now promoted in Europe means engagement with the conditions of a belligerent occupation in Palestine.  We should not shy away from stating this …  It is the Palestinian situation.  With the help of universities, local communities could be trained to do much of this work for themselves. The benchmarking exercise in combination with several existent policy documents showed a clear awareness of the need for now putting in action community and regional strategies for lifelong learning.  The experience of LLIP is that universities are keen to carry out far more research on regional engagement with more ‘on the ground’ collaborations.  This might mean working with outstanding NGOs like the Qattan Foundation and it might mean working more with societies like that of the women graduates in Gaza.  It definitely means a focus on establishing the links and structures that give a national framework for lifelong learning in Palestine. 


Mission statements …


The first move in sustainability then has to be in declaring more involvement in learning throughout life and learning in new places.  The benchmarking of institutional practices compared university involvement in the regions.  We were looking for ways we could raise the overall practice to something akin to what we find in documents like the 2000 EU Memo on Lifelong Learning.  Just about all the Palestinian university mission statements commit institutions to:


·     Delivering quality higher education in teaching, learning, research and community service.


But everyone supports these aims.  There is nothing in them that indicates a unique contribution, which is exactly what we saw when visiting the different universities.   But we so saw little that immediately staked out the unique role of universities in Palestine.  And in some cases it was difficult to access the university mission statement.  Different centers had their missions laid out but there was nothing for some universities as universities.


The University of Cambridge in the UK, which is ranked as the best in the world’s top 100 with Harvard and MIT in second and third place, has an easily accessible mission statement :


·     The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence.

It then elaborates on this mission by saying the university develops

    the widest possible student access to the University

    the contribution which the University can make to society through the pursuit, dissemination, and application of knowledge

    the place of the University within the broader academic and local community

    opportunities for innovative partnerships with business, charitable foundations, and healthcare concern for sustainability and the relationship with the environment

The central focus of Cambridge is on contributing to societal development that is not usually associated with a prestigious academy like theirs.  Cambridge does all the things that the Palestinian universities do but it puts this societal function right at the center of its mission statement.  The rank of this institution in the world shows this mission not to be incommensurate with quality academic work.


Cambridge indicates a commitment to issues of access, knowledge application and transfer in dissemination practices that involve partnerships with business, NGOs, healthcare and the environment in a whole range of sustainable projects.  Now consider the mission statement of the Palestinian universities again before moving on to look at the American University of Cairo.  Its mission statement says:


·     The American University in Cairo (AUC) is a premier English-language institution of higher learning. The university is committed to teaching and research of the highest caliber and offers exceptional liberal arts and professional education in a cross-cultural environment. AUC builds a culture of leadership, lifelong learning, continuing education and service among its graduates and is dedicated to making significant contributions to Egypt and the international community in diverse fields. Chartered and accredited in the United States and Egypt, it is an independent, not-for-profit, equal-opportunity institution. AUC upholds on the principles of academic freedom and is dedicated to excellence.


This is a more specific mission statement than that of Cambridge.  It shows geographical, cultural and political factors give the mission statement a subtle self-awareness that might be expected of such a unique institution.  Cultural leadership in the liberal arts, lifelong learning, continuing education and bridging the Middle East / Europe divide give the core mission.   No other university in the Middle East has anything that is the same.  It can be no surprise that the university staff, students and alumni were deeply involved in the democratization processes throughout Egyptian society that began on the 25th January 2011.  AUC had been involved with organizations a voice within the newly emerging democratic culture, over many years. 


Turkish universities express missions very close to AUC.  But like Cambridge they too state a keen involvement in societal change that has been about Turkey’s new relationship to Europe over the past decade or so.  Lifelong Learning has been introduced systematically, which gives an experience that might contain endless lessons for Palestine, enforcing a number of points that emerged in the LLIP benchmarking exercise.  The first of these has to be that lifelong learning cannot be introduced on an ad hoc basis.  For lifelong learning to work in Palestine it has to be embedded in networks, where the universities are recognized as drivers.  Something of this aim in a networks approach could be expressed in the mission statements of Palestinian universities.


IUG’s mission statement mentions developing Palestinian communities and is not untypical of most of the other institutions. It says the university tries to


       Provide high quality education to students, particularly those living in the Gaza Strip;

       Encourage academic and scientific research to meet the challenges;

       Participate effectively in developing Palestinian community; and

       Promote knowledge and professional skills in science advancement.


Bethlehem’s statement says:


·       Bethlehem University is a Catholic co-educational institution in the Lasallian tradition whose mission is to provide quality higher education to the people of Palestine and to serve them in its role as a center for the advancement, sharing and use of knowledge.


·       The university emphasizes excellence in academic programs and the development of students as committed people prepared to assume leading positions in society.  The university aspires to fostering shared values, moral principles and dedication to serving the common good.


Birzeit has a high proportion of its staff working on regional issues that are taken into consideration in awarding tenure.  Birzeit has a Vice President for Outreach that covers: Community and Public Health, Envirnment and Water Studies, Law, Development Studies, Museums, Media Development, International Studies, IT, Women’s Studies and Continuing Education.  The overall involvement of Birzeit as an institution in the region is very high and the work is clearly of an international cutting edge quality but this is not concentrated in one Center like Continuing Education.  CEC is committed to outreach work but so are many other centers.  Does this give an outreach culture and if it does then should it not be stated far more explicitly in the mission statement?


It all goes back to sustainability once again …


Activities will not be sustained if they are not celebrated for the unique contribution they make in developing university education in Palestine, regional engagement and collaborations with networks of informal education and training providers.  Providers of lifelong learning in other countries will not see the contribution Palestine is making if it is not spelled out more in mission statements. 


So we really have to think about improving the internet ‘presence’ of lifelong learning work that is done in Centers the Community Activists Center.  We have to think about promoting IUG’s work in incubator units and most of all, we have to be able to say that Palestinian universities are as up to date in the third mission as universities anywhere else in the world.  And we have to be able to point to real examples of work that is highlighted on university websites if we are to support our claims and continue the work in the future.  Having shown all this we can then move things on to being more sustainable as things are improved ….




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