Glasgow college rewarded for West Bank links
Glasgow's Anniesland College has become the first Scottish college to be honoured by the British Council for its work with an overseas partner.
Staff have been working in close partnership with four colleges in Palestine's volatile West Bank area - Nablus, Hebron and two in Ramallah
Tonight, Anniesland and its Palestinian partners will be presented with the Scottish International Skills Development Partnership of the Year Award in recognition of the impact of their relationship.
The collaboration, which began two years ago, was developed as part of the British Council's skills for employability programme.
"Our context and circumstances are completely different. Obviously, in the West Bank these are extremely challenging, but their visions and expectations are comparable to ours," said Anniesland College's project manager, Robert Maguire.
Principal Linda McTavish added: "We are working with a society and an economy looking to use vocational education to further their economy, which is what we would wish to do in Scotland."
Four groups of staff from Anniesland College have visited Palestine for a week each time. For safety reasons, the staff stayed in Jerusalem, but crossed over to the West Bank every day to conduct workshops with staff from the four colleges.
Anniesland's work has focused on helping the colleges and the Palestinian government develop and structure their own vocational qualifications network. They have supported staff in their professional development, with 18 Palestinians achieving the Scottish Qualifications Authority's personal planning and development award.
Anniesland staff also helped with curriculum development and establishing employers' forums in Palestine to build relationships between employers and the colleges, something college staff from Palestine have been especially keen to explore.
Anniesland has developed a virtual learning environment, containing learning resources from the SQA and elsewhere, to which their four partner colleges have access.
With political circumstances in the West Bank tense, Anniesland has done its utmost to ensure the safety of its staff. An initial risk assessment was carried out and a representative visited the area in advance of the project to establish the circumstances in which staff would be working.
"We had three meetings with all staff, we never sent anyone out on their own, and it was entirely voluntary," Mrs McTavish said.
While the British Council's funding of the project is about to come to an end, both sides hope the co- operation will continue.
"It is our hope that we can do more together, because the Palestinians feel they have gained so much and they would like to continue to develop," said Mrs McTavish.