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The Palestinian Educational Development Strategic Plan (EDSP) 2014-2019: A Learning Nation, offers a vision for a “student centred and inclusive education system that provides 21st-century relevant education services at all levels with high quality and full equity considering individual needs and being at the heart of the political, economic and social development in and for Palestine”. ((Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education, 2014). Within this context, the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE), with engagement from UNICEF, is embarking on several efforts to improving learning outcomes for Palestinian students.
As part of this engagement, MOEHE was an active participant in the consultations that led to the development of the Middle East and North Africa Conceptual and Programmatic Life Skills Framework (UNICEF, 2017) which informed UNICEF’s Global Framework on Skills. Subsequent to that, and aligned with a curriculum reform process, MOEHE and UNICEF agreed to engage in a process to support teachers in implementing the new curriculum and improve the breadth of skills developed by all learners, in alignment with the LSE framework.
To achieve this, Birzeit University (BU) education experts and instructional designers were enlisted to develop gender responsive Experiential Learning Objects (xLOBs) for grades 1-4. xLOBs are learning materials to be used by teachers that work in a complementary manner with the existing educational system - remaining in line with the textbook and curriculum required by the formal educational system. This initiative engages teachers in contextualizing high quality learning materials developed by researchers and experienced teachers. To be able to use and contextualize these learning materials, teachers go through a short professional development course where they learn about experiential learning and student-centred teaching, so that they can integrate the life skills lessons into their teaching effectively and support students’ learning achievement (development of new knowledge, skills, and attitudes). In this sense, in-service teacher development becomes more efficient, practical and motivating. Moreover, once teachers start adapting the lessons to the context of their classrooms, they share them through a learning objects bank, increasing the access to quality contextualized learning materials for all the teachers that participate in the initiative.
To ensure a gender lens is applied in the development of xLOBs, gender experts formed an integral part of the design team. Each xLOB was designed to cover several skills included in the UNICEF framework, and each skill had its own performance indicators. Observational assessment tools for the skills were developed to be used by teachers, and guidance on how to utilize these tools was part of the professional development course. The process of development and classroom enactment of the xLOBs, examples of xLOBs, and assessment tools will be demonstrated during this presentation.
Measurement of the impact of the xLOBs on student learning in 100 schools were they were enacted will be presented. A statistical sample of students was monitored over a full semester and performance metrics were aggregated. Data demonstrated improved development of all 12 life skills addressed in the framework.
UNICEF. (2017). Reimagining Life Skills and Citizenship Education in the Middle East and North Africa, Conceptual and Programmatic Framework.
Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education. (2014). Education Development Strategic Plan (EDSP) 2014-2019: A Learning Nation.