Following their visit in Finland, the team of Professors and staff from Al-Azhar University Gaza (AUG) exchanged views and experiences online with members of OLIVE and colleagues from partner universities (Birzeit University, University of Helsinki & University of Eastern Finland). The discussion took place at the pedagogical café of OLIVE (5 April 2022) and the focus was on the two-week-long visit (14.–25.03.2022) of AUG delegates in Joensuu and Helsinki. The topics of the discussion concerned the different dimensions of the experience and what kind of learning opportunities emerged through the variety of activities of the program of the visit.
The delegates brought forward issues that concern the philosophy underlying the educational system in Finland. An evaluation system, for instance, that considers the holistic development of the students and pays justice to all the students who attend a class is a significant aspect of organizing teaching and learning and updating the curricula. Other important takes concern the infrastructure in schools and the use of informal learning environments (e.g., visiting museums, exhibitions, teaching outdoors etc.). These make it possible to integrate student-centered pedagogies into practice and address the needs of all students.
Importantly, as Dr. Osama S. Hamdouna, Dean at the Faculty of Education AUG, pointed out, it became evident that both policy makers and the community need to support the process of updating the curricula and developing education and teacher education. In this way, changes will resonate with the needs of the wider society.
The discussion joined Päivi Peltokoski, the Ambassador of Finland in Ramallah and Palestine. Peltokoski mentioned that Palestinian education is high in the agenda and encouraged partners to expand networks across Europe and the world and build relations and opportunities for collaborations at different levels.