Monday, 11 May 2020 (UNESCO/Ministry of Education and Higher Education)- The COVID-19 outbreak has translated into a major education crisis. In Lebanon, 1.2 million children are affected by school closure and have seen their learning routine disrupted. While Lebanon has switched to distance teaching and learning to mitigate the effects of such disruption, challenges related to preparedness, infrastructure and capacity, as well as the digital gaps, have put additional strains on students, parents, teachers, and the educational authorities.
In this context, and in the framework of their educational response to the COVID-19 crisis, UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States (UNESCO Beirut) and Education Cannot Wait (ECW) joined efforts to support the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in developing inclusive distance learning solutions to ensure that learning never stops.
As one of the tracks of the Ministry of Education’s strategy to respond to the COVID-19 crisis focuses on developing online learning as an alternative to school closure, UNESCO Beirut and ECW, with generous support from the French government, furnished the Ministry with online learning material and digital resources to be used by teachers and students in Lebanon. 297 video lessons, covering Maths, Sciences, and French classes, were provided by Reseau CANOPE, and are available on the online platform launched by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education for the COVID-19 response.
Minister of Education Dr Tarek Majzoub said: “We are happy to partner with UNESCO and ECW to facilitate inclusive learning opportunities for children during this period of sudden and unprecedented educational disruption. Special thanks to the French Government for its generous contribution that made this important initiative happen”, adding that: “This collective action will help build a more resilient system to develop more open and flexible approaches to reach all our children in Lebanon and to promote the values of citizenship, coexistence, and dialogue”.
This cooperation comes within the framework of UNESCO’s project “Supporting francophone teaching and learning in Lebanon”, funded by ECW with the support of the French government, and launched in November 2018. The project aims to promote the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning in French for vulnerable Lebanese and non-Lebanese students enrolled in public schools, and is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
UNESCO’s Regional Director for Education in the Arab States, Dr Hamed al Hamami, said: “From school closures, to isolation, to a persistent sense of anxiety, the effects of this pandemic are greatly impacting children and youth. Despite the crisis, learning should never stop. This is why UNESCO is committed to supporting the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in developing remote learning solutions and ensuring inclusion and equity for all learners, so that no one is left behind. Our cooperation with the Ministry will not only help ensure continuity of education but can also contribute to building a more resilient education system for the future, through providing teachers and students with new learning material and resources ”.
Yasmine Sherif, Director of ECW, stated: “Lebanon deserves all our support and cooperation. UNESCO has years of experience in in modeling, testing, and sharing some of the world’s most innovative learning solutions, and their ideas are now available for nations like Lebanon midst this crisis. The admirable efforts of the Lebanese Ministry of Education to enable online learning brings equity and access to education for vulnerable children, including refugee and displaced girls and boys. This is how we empower these children to improve their learning, while unlocking the amazing potential for innovation. Our appreciation and gratitude to the Government of France for making this possible.”