Glasgow Consortium Meeting August 2012


Lifelong learning in Palestine – Glasgow Consortium Meeting

21st, 22nd, 23rd August 2012


Keith Hammond, Rebecca Kay, Alison Phipps - Glasgow

Yousef Najajreh, Raid Zaghal, Asma Imam and Najwa Al Silwadi – Al Quds

Nur Masalha – St Mary’s

Josephine Finn, Michael Kenny - Maynooth

Moussa Ribadi – Bethlehem

Mai Shanti – Birzeit

No visa’s were not granted to the IUG group – a latter visit was arranged.

Tuesday 21st August 2012


1.      Report on European Field Visit.

This was considered a very positive endorsement of the work of the project so far. Points for attention included:

a)      Purchase of equipment. Each university reported on their progress to date.

AQ: Bidding process complete. 50% of equipment already received and being inspected. This includes smartboards, photocopy machine, laptops. Only PCs haven’t arrived yet. Negotiating to get 0% vat.

Birzeit: PCs ordered. Technical committee in process of choosing supplier for other multi media equipment. Process delayed due to 3 week strike at university.

Bethlehem: Technical committee appointed and bidding process finished. Tenders received and purchase orders despatched. All working well and within budget. Awaiting delivery.

IUG: Keith reported that purchase of equipment is also well underway in Gaza.

Action: KH will feedback progress on purchase of equipment in report to be submitted in October.

b)      Involvement of NGOs in 3rd work package

Possibility of NIACE or BEMIS acting as group overseeing progress for project.  Both have extensive experience in evaluating European Projects, both have useful contacts and could perhaps help with the international networking.  BEMIS has lots of experience in lifelong Learning projects.

Action: KH will write to both organisations and check availability and give a description of what the project would like them to do.

c)      The need for one person to act as focal point in each organisation.

Difficulties arose in contact person in Birzeit because the previous representative had taken another job.

Action: Mai will take on the role of representing Birzeit until the university appoints another project coordinator.

2.      Visits to Edinburgh

Arrangements have been make for the group to visit the Edinburgh festival in order to experience at first hand how cultural work, employment and informal education can work hand in hand to mutually reinforce one another. This is a useful model for what might happen in Palestine.

The group are due to give a panel presentation on the project at Word Power Bookshop as part of the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

Action: KH will contact the festival office and seek a meeting for the group to learn from the Edinburgh organisers’ experience of putting on such an event. He will also try to arrange tickets for the Book Festival.

3.      Developing opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship

The remainder of the morning’s meeting was taken up with a general discussion on the needs of Palestine and what might be in the 3rd work package.  Employment and regional engagement came through in the benchmarking are requiring a particular focus. These are some of the points and issues that came up.

  Growing new businesses

AQ and Bethlehem have had incubators for small businesses for 6/7 years but few have managed to survive in the marketplace. There is potential for growth and industry but they need sustainable business plans. This is hampered not so much by underdevelopment as by the Israeli policy of de-development whereby it is extremely difficult for Palestinians to export or even sell goods locally, especially in east Jerusalem where imports are illegal and food is confiscated at the checkpoints. The problem is more of a political than economic one.

The example was given of Ghandi’s success in encouraging the indigenous Indian population to buy local even when they were a colonised people swamped by textiles from Britain. A similar ‘buy Irish’ campaign was successful in Ireland in the 1980s.

  Culture and Festivals

There are many festivals and celebratory events in Palestine, but they are fragmented. The impact would be bigger if, as at the Edinburgh Festival, the events were coordinated. Edinburgh Festival is the biggest cluster of international knowledge exchange in the world.  Concentrated over three weeks, which brings in enough revenue through tourism etc. for to sustain the city through much of the rest of the year.  Links could also be made with alternative tourism, enabling visitors to sample local produce, buy local goods and enjoy local culture and folklore.


  International Partners helping with exports and awareness raising

It’s vital to do whatever is possible to keep hope alive for the Palestinian population. It’s important that plans are supported by international partners and the international community becomes better educated about the situation in Palestine. For example universities in partner countries could be encouraged to sell Palestinian goods in their shops – olive oil, dates, maybe the ‘green toys’ made from recycled materials that Bethlehem university is working with women’s groups to create. There is a story behind these products that could be told. Freshers Fairs are another possible outlet. The NUS would probably love to support in this way. Campuses are huge captive markets that could be targeted. A statement could be put up on the website and universities invited to participate. This could be integrated into the project and linked to the benchmark linking lifelong learning to employment.

60%-70% of Palestinian women don’t work. There are many local organisations helping to educate and teach them how to fabricate and market small products. The partners need to think how they can help with the export of these products. In this way education, culture and employment are seen to interlink and to support social justice.

Perhaps some of these issues can be tackled in thinking about sustainability.  There will be a need for other events following from this project that tackle issues uncovered on LLIP.

  Science & Technology

The science and knowledge based economy needs developing with more technology based spin offs and start ups. More scientific research could be done into local problems e.g. the fly that is causing disease in the olive trees. Science and technology based businesses can be, relatively speaking, far more profitable than craft based ones. Again a statement inviting responses could be put up on the website.

There are currently 1,000 IT and computer science graduates per year of whom only about 10% find employment that utilises their skills. Many end up as shopkeepers. The Palestinian Authority and Europe have put money into IT incubators but they have only resulted in a small number of startups (10) and even fewer successful companies (2).  Economic issues again leading back to the occupation.


  Service businesses – language teaching & learning

These would have the advantage of stimulating economic development without the need for moving goods around. For example there is potentially a huge demand for Arabic language learning. Women could be educated to teach and be monitored by trained teachers to deliver courses via skype. These could be marketed as Fair trade language learning to complement other Fair trade goods. The language courses could be made to link with alternative tourism, with students staying with Palestinian families. There is scope here for a joint project with the British Council.

Other related businesses and projects include Translation services, which would require high levels of fluency in both Arabic and English (or other languages), and also language exchange programmes, providing Palestinian students with opportunities for e-learning of English.



After a lengthy discussion on the usefulness of comparing benchmarks arrived at by a subjective process of self assessment, the afternoon was spent listening to the reports of the universities present on the various benchmarked topics. These are not recorded here as they are already noted down in powerpoint form (powerpoints to go on website).  In fact there is such a wealth of fascinating good practice in community engagement - such as work with women’s groups and schools on media literacy, health and science etc. - that the task might rather be how to edit the material down to a manageable number of examples. Pictures and short videos can be an effective way of communicating this material online. Partners should put links on their websites to outstanding examples such as CAC and the Centre for Jerusalem studies.  Jerusalem activities important for everyone.

The aim of the benchmarking exercise is to encourage the 4 universities to network more together so that the best practice in each can become the common standard for all.

Here are some of the points that arose during the afternoon presentations and discussion.

·        More evidence needs to be provided by the IUG to support the scores on topics such as the embedding of community engagement in the university mission statements and departmental action plans – follow day’s presentation.

·        Having some demonstrable impact in East Jerusalem should be a priority for the project. A society that used to be the historical, cultural and spiritual centre of Palestine is now suffering unbearable hardship. Its citizens are cut off from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and new diseases are appearing as a result of inbreeding. Its people are treated as 2nd class citizens and increasingly marginalised. There are few services and increasing drug problems. School drop outs stand at 48%. What happens in Jerusalem is of importance to every Palestinian as it is the symbolic centre.

·        The difficulties of e.g. children from Gaza in getting permits and permission to visit key places in Jerusalem highlights the danger of Palestinians becoming cut off from one another and disconnected from their own tradition. This issue of the increasing fragmentation of the population must be addressed in the 3rd work package

·        The project’s website is a very important tool for increasing the visibility and awareness of Palestine across the international community. It should be interactive to support participation by others. The use of social media is another important means of connecting Palestinians with one another all over the world. Universities such as Bethlehem recognise the importance of media education for young people in giving them the skills to raise their concerns and advocate for their rights.

·        It was pointed out that the proportion of European funding awarded to Israel is far greater than that given to Palestine. It is necessary for the Palestinians and their partners to be visible and proactive in shaping policy at events such as the World UNESCO conference in order to encourage greater fairness in distribution of resources.





Wednesday 22nd August 2012

Phone conferencing with Gaza. 

Discussion of high scores on Benchmarking.  Details of IUG practice given.  IUG have a lot of good practice that needs to be publicised more.  Work with refugee camps is Gaza is extremely important.  The IUG elaborated on many activities but the video link was not good.

Lots of discussion about Mission Statements in Al Quds.  Lots of discussion on mission of outrach in Old City.  Ms Al Silwadi gave details of CAC.  Discussion of Faculty and Center’s mission statements.  Start-ups and spin-off companies set up in Gaza.

Points about promotion covered – promotion precedures need to follow Gaza.  Outreach work and community based practice need to be acknowledged.  Work with NGOs need to be acknowledged.

Lifelong learning and third mission needing to be flagged up more on university websites.  Many practices have not been valorised by the different universities – often thought unimportant but these pockets of work are important.

Detailed discussion of work package three.  Notes to be in circulation by March 2013.  Seminars thereafter.

Material for training that contains :

1.      Leadership: From the ground up.

2.      Culture: a site of collective memory and learning.

3.      Economic issues of a learning society

4.      Pedagogy: From didactics to popular participation

5.      Gaza as a Learning Region

6.      Towards Palestine as a Lifelong Learning society.


One day of workshops to 35 University staff and local community leaders, NGOs staff.

Dr Ribadi objected to the titles.  Wanted to know how they had been determined.  KH referred to the Logical Matrix – part of the notes; explained these were working titles – not fixed.  An agreement that anything relating to national policy considerations should not be rushed and should be based on full involvement of consortium.  Dr Ribadi not easy to follow the Matrix.

Teams established for writing ‘packs’ – bundles of notes on which seminars should be based.

KH referred to Benchmarking and Community Needs Assessments.  Choices need to be made by consortium about the focus.  A lot of data and information is now in circulation after the first work package.  This can be overwhelming.  The focus does not have to be the same in different areas.

Afternoon visit to Edinburgh Festival – the biggest forum of knowledge exchange over three weeks of the year in the world.  Consideration of how they did it.  What they did.  Idea of considering similar celebration of culture and the arts in Palestine discussed.

Intensity of social capital on show in Edinburgh – but nothing in use in Edinburgh that could not be found ion the West Bank and Gaza. 

  Panel discussion of Lifelong Learning in Palestine as part of International Festival

LLIP event at Wordpower bookshop.  Chaired by Josephine Finn.  All the Palestine partners took part in the event.  The event lasted 45 minutes.  Film made and placed on website.  Lots of interesting people wanting to work with Palestinian universities.  Lots of networking.  Lots of new contacts but difficult to coordinate everything.

Wednesday 24th August 2012.

Morning presentations from all the partners on Leadership – what already exists that needs to be built on.  LLIP not a question of reinventing the wheel but being selective about what is already happening and making the practice more widespread.  A very detailed account of all the outreach work being done in Birzeit.   Mai Shanti gave a profile of different centers – what they do, and how the ‘outreach’ remit works. 

Action for everyone after these presentations.  All the presentations to be placed on the website. 

In the afternoon there were two detailed presentations by Proffessor Masalha and Professor Mayo.  Lots of discussion on how language, memory and oral history practices are important for lifelong learning in many different locations across Palestine.  Similarly detailed discussion on Freire.  How would new student-centred Freirean approaches be put into practice in Palestione.

Evening panel discussion on education and training in Palestine after film showing in Centre for Contemporary Arts – Glasgow.

Thursday 23rd August 2012

Visit to Dunoon – a small village on the Firth of the Clyde.  Local festival celebrating Scottish culture.  Again lots of interest in how economic activity is generated through culture.

 Outcome of three days:

A more coherent consortium.  A collective awareness of what had emerged in the benchmarking.  Much more knowledge of good practice in Gaza and centers like those functioning around outreach in Birzeit.  Details of work being done in Old City by Al Quds. 

Lots of discussion of importance of economic considerations – factors coming out of the occupation which was the blind spot in the benchmarking.  An awareness of the importance of culture in lifelong learning.  Ideas of how culture can work in economic development – examples coming out Edinburgh visit.

Knowledge of who and what is involved in the second and third work package.  An agreement of who would write notes for the ‘packs’ and what papers and documents would be relevant.  Note of deadlines …

Update on progress made in purchasing equipment and materials.


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