Since 2011, dozens of Palestinian early childhood educators have joined the Early Childhood Professional Development programme. To invigorate the role play in kindergartens (KGs) and local communities, the programme offers courses and organises workshops on education, art, science, investigation, childhood pedagogy and self-professional development strategies.
Within the Early Childhood Professional Development programme, researchers work with educators on planning and applying educational projects in class. Participating educators then build on their experience by reflecting on, writing about and expressing their practices through art.
The Early Childhood Professional Development programme provides a rich space for openness to new experiences. In this vein, an annual exchange component furnishes an opportunity to a number of educators to travel to the British Woodrow School, which applies the mantle of the expert technique in classes. Educators engage in planning and practical application exercises and document their experience to pass it on to kindergartens and peer educators in Palestine.
In the same context, the Childhood Educators Forum has been inaugurated, providing a space to share experiences and motivate educators to work and follow up with new developments in the Childhood Programme in particular, and programmes of the A.M. Qattan Foundation in general.
Additionally, the Science Days Palestine (SDP) Festival allows a further opportunity for educators, contributing to their professional development at KGs and empowering them in their social contexts. For two years in a row (2016 and 2017), several KGs participated in the SDP Festival. Educators showcased science events, experiments and exhibits to students, parents, and local communities.
The programme looks for education that does not talk about, but embodies, values. Hence, children can learn through practice. Ethical standards would not be dictated to children as an abstract lesson. Also, the programme embraces a vision that derives from the belief that developing educators is an intrinsic, self-initiated process despite the fact that it starts in workshops moderated by trainers and researchers.
Project-based Learning (Project Pedagogy) seeks to promote and students’ participation in their communities, either at school or in the public space. To do so, educational projects are implemented at schools with a view to reproducing knowledge from the students’ perspective.
In the context of their participation in the Project-based Learning programme, project themes which work on range from social science, biology, physics, mathematics, and English language.
Since 2011, a teacher and her students at the Yabrud School started their project on fossils, conducted research on the project theme, collected fossils, and made miniatures of these fossils. Now, in 2018, the teacher and students are developing a clear vision and mission for an interactive fossils museum in the village. In addition to creating a logo, they are compiling a plan to run the museum. Thanks to engaging mothers, younger students, village residents and local artists, the teacher and students have found and refurbished a proper building to accommodate the museum.
In 2017, work in the Gaza Strip focused on seven evolving projects. For example, in the Women and Science project, a group of female students looked out for successful stories of women from around the world and asked a sample about the most influential figure. Students found out that the majority of respondents chose a non-Arab figure. Therefore, students shifted their approach to introducing people to successful Palestinian women in the field of science. Accordingly, a new phase of the project has been launched.