For nearly a decade, AMIDEAST has been pleased to work with the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) in support of its educational reform goals. AMIDEAST’s involvement began with the USAID-funded Model Schools Network (MSN) Program, which between 2007 and 2012 implemented reforms in a network of nearly 60 public and private schools that would serve as models for other schools.
Building on these successes, the Leadership and Teacher Development (LTD) Program was launched with USAID funding in 2012 to support MOEHE’s priority of improving classroom instruction in order to increase access to basic education, raise literacy rates, improve the quality of basic education, and nurture a youth population prepared to contribute to Palestine’s social, economic, and political development.
During its first four years, comprehensive measures implemented by LTD have enhanced the quality of education for 100,000 students at 304 public schools. Raising the professional development of school leaders and teachers has been key; each of the schools’ principals, more than 1,500 in-service and pre-service teachers, and more than 100 district-level managers have benefited from professional development opportunities based on 21st-century, learner-centered teaching and leadership strategies.
LTD has also helped to strengthen ministry policies and structures that support leadership and teacher development in three strategic areas: technology use, decentralization, and classroom assessment. A functional audit undertaken by LTD emphasized the gains that would be realized by using ICT (information and communication technologies) at all levels of the educational system—central ministry, district directorates, and inside schools and classrooms. In addition, LTD successfully initiated the process that culminated in the ministry’s adoption of a new system of student assessment.
To ensure sustainability and continuity in developing and implementing policies, LTD has supported the creation of two leadership groups, School Improvement Teams (SIT) and District Leadership Teams (DLT), to develop and implement plans at the school and district levels, respectively. Currently the program is working with MOEHE on the implementation of a supervision diploma program for 150 supervisors. In Gaza, LTD has provided training to 32 teacher educators in pre-service teacher education at Al-Azhar University’s Faculty of Education received training that, in turn, is benefiting some 4,500 student-teachers.
Originally envisioned as a four-year program, LTD was recently extended until June 2018. The extra time will enable an additional 150 schools to participate, bringing the total number of schools that will benefit from LTD to more than 450. The extension will also allow LTD to build linkages with Palestinian higher education in a manner that will strengthen the use of educational technology in basic education classrooms, as well as continue its work with all stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of LTD’s impact for years to come.