History, Culture and Memory as Sites of Life-long Learning in Palestine

Submitting Institution

St Mary's University, Twickenham

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Specialist Studies In Education

Download original


Summary of the impact

The pedagogical workshops conducted in Palestine in 2012-13 on History, Culture and Memory as Sites of Life-long Learning in Palestine (LLIP) attracted teachers, civil servants and local government employees, members of cultural centres and NGOs. The project contributed to co-learning experience and a dialogue across cultures. Beneficiaries shared new ideas on critical pedagogies. The local and international partners explored how new research on "social memory from below" and oral memory methodologies can be applied to Palestinian pedagogy. The European partners gained deeper insights into the complex issues and realities confronting the Palestinian institutions. The new pedagogical material recorded at the workshops was circulated through the local media and placed on Palestinian websites in both Arabic and English. As a result of the success of the project, Nur Masalha, Professor of Religion and Politics and Director of the Centre for Religion and History at St Mary's, was consulted by the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education and the Palestinian Quality Assurance Commission (in Ramallah) in May-June 2013 on the introduction of new MA programmes at Palestinian universities and on issues of teaching history in Palestinian schools.

Underpinning research

The Holy Land Research Project was part of a successful international collaborative bid to the European Commission: Tempus, entitled: `Life-Long Learning in Palestine' (LLIP). This international collaborative project which is led by Glasgow University involves Professor Nur Masahla at St Mary's University College. Other partners include: the National University of Ireland Maynooth; University of Malta; four Palestinian universities: Bethlehem University, University of Birzeit, Al-Quds University (in Jerusalem), and the Islamic University of Gaza; and two Palestinian Non-Governmental Organisations. The project is embedded in international networks that realise Life-long Learning as a globally informed practice. The project involves study visits, seminars/workshops and meetings for academics, students, employers, university policy makers and NGOs in Palestine.

LLIP supports partners in developing and delivering training that involves NGO workers, organisations of Palestinian civil society, academic institutions and community centres in collaboration with all the Palestinian and European partners on community and cultural issues. It plays a particular role in dissemination through Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal, published by Edinburgh University Press and edited by Prof Masahla. Papers derived from the project are made broadly available in English, and translated into Arabic.

The LLIP project is a three-year project which was envisaged as central to Palestine's learning and growth in the new global age of information economies. The planning of collaborative exercises was mediated through all sorts of local learning organisations, including schools, colleges and universities. The aim of the LLIP was to facilitate Palestine's emergence as a learning society where tradition and culture come together in a dynamic knowledge-based society. The Graduate Women of Gaza and the Centre for Applied Research in Education, respectively in Gaza and the West Bank, were involved in the project from the start and though the early stages of the project, the local and European partners sought to establish links with a whole range of informal learning organisations in Palestine, Europe and the Middle East and North Africa region.

The planned activities of the LLIP project have included: a literature review; field trips to construct learning benchmarks for Gaza and the West Bank; the setting up of LLIP websites or web pages at all collaborative institutions; placing important educational and pedagogical documents on the LLIP websites; carrying out surveys to determine local community benchmarking needs; completing survey analysis with the reports placed on the LLIP websites; convening two LLIP conferences in Amman and Glasgow in November 2011 and August 2012 respectively; video-conferencing with the Palestinian Minister of Higher Education; and putting together various pedagogical packs on LLIP, along with educational documents which feed into national educational policies in Palestine. These pedagogical packs were fine-tuned with workshops conducted in July 2013 on the ground in Palestine. The project research partners as a team made sure that the practices involved were embedded in the repertoire of skills of each of the Palestinian partners. The Palestinian partners were all involved in broad discussions of LLIP in their different areas.

This was the first exercise of its kind in Palestine and skills developed here were transferred to other projects run by the Palestinian partners, who were aware of the good practice in each of their different areas of specialism. The LLIP also made use of Moodle software for internal discussion and writing collective documents and a blog that allowed immediate dissemination of useful information and educational opportunities, such as the availability of scholarships, etc. Reports of meetings went onto the websites, along with important documents for developing LLIP. Feedback for quality assurance purposes was also managed on the websites. Dissemination was initiated by filming everything done and circulating this all over the West Bank and Gaza through the LLIP websites.

References to the research

1. Keith Hammond, `Life-long Learning in Palestine', Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal, Volume 11, Page 79-85 DOI 10.3366/hls.2012.0031, ISSN 1474-9475 http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/pdfplus/10.3366/hls.2012.0031


2. Nur Masalha, (2012) The Palestine Nakba: Decolonising History, Narrating the Subaltern, Reclaiming Memory. (London: Zed Books, 2012). ISBN 9781848139701


3. Nur Masalha, `Remembering the Palestinian Nakba: Commemoration, Oral History and Narratives of Memory. Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 7 (2). (2008): 123-156. ISSN 14749475


4. Najwa Silwadi and Peter Mayo, `Pedagogy in Palestine: Insight from Paulo Freire', Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal , vol.13, No (May 2013)


The Holy Land Studies journal (references 1,3,4) is a fully refereed international journal which publishes new, critical and provocative ideas, paying particular attention to issues that have a contemporary relevance and a wider public interest.

Masahla's authored book (2012)(reference 2) was reviewed by an external reviewer during REF preparation and graded as minimum 3* quality.

Details of the impact

The LLIP is now discussed in the universities and in the different communities in the West Bank and Gaza. It is not an alien concept. Different projects are able to identify how they contribute to LLIP. Collaborations between education and workplace environments formed part of the strategic planning; different providers now look to the universities and the universities look to broader projects for new initiatives that serve Palestinian society. The LLIP agenda is discussed by regional partners in relation to the benchmarking results alongside the development issues of four of the major cities across Palestine. Providers are thinking in a more integrated way about work and learning. As a result sustainable region development is framed in a whole range of educational and work practices that have to function collectively in a way that enforces the knowledge triangle, and Palestinian communities have begun to think about how they work in relation to the knowledge society.

In particular the impact of Professor Masalha's contribution to the LLIP project centres on the four pedagogical workshops he conducted in Palestine in July 2013 on History, Culture and Memory as sites of Life-long Learning in Palestine and the wide local Palestinian coverage of these meetings and workshops. These workshops were conducted at: the Institute for Community Partnership, Bethlehem University; the Institute for Continuing Education, Birzeit University; Ramallah, the Centre for Community Action (Old City of Jerusalem); and the Centre for Jerusalem Studies (Old City of Jerusalem), Al-Quds University. Participants and beneficiaries of these workshops were primary and secondary school teachers, civil servants, local government employees, members of local cultural centres and NGOs. The seminars and workshops contributed to the development of pedagogic partnerships in different settings in Palestine and these facilitated a wide arrangement of adult learning approaches right across Palestinian society. Palestinian institutions involved linked innovative work in Life-long Learning to different regions in Europe and the Arab world. The Palestinian institutions are very keen on sustaining and extending this project beyond 2013.

The workshops contributed to co-learning experience and a dialogue across cultures: the participants of workshops in Palestine and the European project partners benefited from comparing experiences on a range of pedagogical issues central to history teaching, critical education and critical learning both in Palestine and internationally. Both Palestinian and European partners explored how new research on local and oral memory, culture and memory (and how individual and collective memories interact) can nurture and enrich learning cultures both in Palestine and internationally. The European partners also gained deeper insights into the complex issues and realities confronting the Palestinian partners. Overall this was an important co-learning experience. The project contributed new material on oral history, memory and culture as sites of learning. A great deal of the pedagogical material recorded at these workshops was placed on Palestinian websites in both Arabic and English and Professor Masalha was also interviewed in July 2013 by the local Palestinian TV channel about this project.

The LLIP partners also took part in the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2012, speaking about the Tempus programme and the Life-long Learning in Palestine project. This public event was filmed and the material placed on LLIP and social media websites. The project filmed the seminars and workshops and sent material to international cultural organisations including UNESCO. Professor Masalha and the Palestinian partners are keen on sustaining and extending this project beyond December 2013.

In view of extensive knowledge of and experience with teaching Palestinian history, and following the success of this Tempus project, Professor Masalha was consulted by the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education and the Palestinian Quality Assurance Commission (both based in Ramallah) on the introduction of new MA programmes at Palestinian universities and on issues of teaching history, culture and life-long learning in Palestine.

A new international collaboration project on Palestine's history and cultural heritage is currently being developed by Professor Masalha, Professor Thomas Thompson, of Copenhagen University, and Al-Quds University (East Jerusalem) with the view of recommending to the Palestinian Ministry of Education a revision of the Palestinian high-school curriculum for the pre-Islamic history of Palestine.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Life-long Learning in Palestine website: http://lllp.iugaza.edu.ps/en/
  2. Learning in Palestine on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lllpalestine
  3. Dean of Scientific Research, Al-Quds University, Jerusalem
  4. Director, Institute for Community partnership, Bethlehem University
  5. Director, Centre for Community Action, Old City of Jerusalem
  6. Head, Accreditation and Quality Assurance Commission, Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education, Ramallah, Palestine
  7. Former Head of Department of Adult Education, University of Malta, Malta
  8. Sabeel Ecumenical Theology Centre, PO Box 49084, Jerusalem 91491
  9. Department of Biblical Exegesis, University of Copenhagen
  10. Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel