As the coronavirus outbreak continues to impact our lives, new ways to communicate, engage, support, and empower are needed. Social enterprises in Lebanon and worldwide are adapting their tools and resources to continue serving the most vulnerable during this unprecedented crisis. Alfanar’s venture philanthropy portfolio of social enterprises has also responded and continues to identify emerging needs and alternative solutions for communities that have lost access to education and economic opportunities.
Some of these solutions include digital academic support services for public school students based on the Lebanese curriculum, training opportunities in digital work, and coding for youth to increase the prospects of landing a job in the tech sector. As the way of doing business and effecting social change is transforming, social entrepreneurs have been leading the charge to seize new opportunities and minimize the negative impact of the pandemic on marginalized groups. Alfanar has been a part of this transformative journey and is continually inspired by the talents and drive of social innovators championing creative methods to deliver lasting social impact on the most vulnerable communities.
Online education services support students following the Lebanese curriculum
With the closure of all private and public schools in Lebanon since March 2, 2020, over a million students are at home and missing precious education opportunities. While some private schools have set up their own online learning tools, others are sending homework for students to complete on their own. While parents are doing their best to support their children, many are finding it difficult to cope. Indeed, nothing can replace an educator’s experience and expertise. Thankfully, the creativity and resourcefulness of Lebanese social enterprises provide students with engaging options to follow the curriculum at their own pace.
Tabshoura is a digital education platform developed by the Lebanese Alternative Learning (LAL) association to offer free, high-quality education anytime, anywhere and in three languages. The platform targets students of KG1, KG2, KG3 as well as Grades 6, 7, 8 and 9. Tabshoura programs follow a curricular approach that is aligned with the Lebanese official curriculum and learning outcomes, and validated by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. It applies an innovative methodology based on active learning and discovery, and enhances analytical and autonomous learning skills.
Tabshoura.com features three programs:
- Tabshoura Kindergarten: provides early childhood education programs to teach reading, math, and sciences in English, French, and Arabic. (KG1, KG2, and KG3, with 450 activities)
- Tabshoura Middle School: provides programs for middle school from Grades 6 to 9, aligned with the learning objectives of the Lebanese curriculum and validated by CERD experts. (more than 320 units/chapters)
- Tabshoura Plus: provides diverse learning tracks in arts, environment, civic awareness, learning disabilities, problem-solving, and more. (100 units)
As a solution to internet unreliability in parts of Lebanon, Tabshoura programs are also available via an offline box through which up to 30 devices can connect without internet access.
Since its launch five years ago, Tabshoura has benefited more than 2,000 students and trained 50 teachers. The organization has also welcomed Malala and Tim Cooke in Lebanon as part of a partnership with the Malala Fund. In January 2020, LAL began receiving funding and management support from Alfanar venture philanthropy to scale Tabshoura’s impact, strengthen organizational systems, and ensure sustainability through services such as digitizing the content of other educational institutions.
For public school students in Grades 8 and 9, MMKN association offers remote academic support sessions via WhatsApp with the help of trained volunteer tutors from major universities across Lebanon. Each session is dedicated to a single subject, with a focus on math, chemistry, biology, and physics. The tutors work with students to develop a weekly schedule that provides structured learning opportunities while maintaining the flexibility to respond to student needs and questions. For students to benefit from MMKN’s free services, public school administrators must first enroll them in the program.
For the past 10 years, MMKN has been providing tutoring services to Grades 8 and 9 in partnership with more than 100 public schools across Lebanon, supporting more than 10,000 students and achieving a 95% pass rate at the brevet official exam thanks to the dedication of 1,260 university volunteers.
Due to the acute crisis facing the Lebanese school system, Ana Aqra association has designed and implemented emergency education projects to advance literacy, promote independent learning, and address the challenges resulting from the lack of resources in Arabic. These efforts follow the international standards set by the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE).
The “I Play and Learn with Ana Aqra” Arabic educational kit is a product that is suitable for distance learning in times of crisis, allowing children to learn through play while developing their social-emotional skills. This teacher-student/parent-child games toolkit is for children aged 3 to 12, and can be played individually or in small groups. Toolkit objectives cover all language components and skills, including phonetics, vocabulary, speech, fluency, and reading comprehension. The kit is available at Halabi Bookshop, Beirut Books and Librairie Antoine and can be delivered to your doorstep by contacting the Ana Aqra team via whatsapp (+961 70 044 103) or email.
Ana Aqra has been serving public schools for the last 25 years in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, with the aim of improving access to quality education for all children. The organization has to date reached over 145,000 children and 5,500 teachers. Ana Aqra programs focus on learners’ integration and retention, equipping classrooms with the needed tools and resources, as well as reinforcing teachers’ best practices through innovative training workshops and tools.
Free digital and coding training opportunities for youth to enhance their skills and careers
Lebanon has exceptional human capital and the potential to turn into a high-skill outsourcing destination. These unprecedented times call on us to intensify efforts to strengthen our competitive advantage, invest in our youth, and provide them with opportunities to make the best of their time at home. Two leading social enterprises in the digital sector provide exciting opportunities for those who wish to join the digital and coding revolution. These programs are designed to develop critical thinking abilities while building or strengthening digital, software development, and programming skills that are increasingly in demand in the local and international job markets.
SE Factory offers a free online course and one-on-one online tutoring sessions in coding foundations. Anyone can start from scratch or from any skill level. Whether you’re a student who needs extra support in Computer Science concepts, or a parent wanting their child to acquire new skills, or a professional wanting to do the same, this online course and e-tutoring sessions are for you. The course covers the entire fundamentals of Computer Science, which allows you to build web and other types of software applications in no time! SE Factory’s world-class instructors can be booked for hourly live video sessions and will support you with exercises personalized to your own needs. If you’re interested to join one of Lebanon’s most successful tech skills development programs, complete this simple form and the team will contact you as soon as possible.
Since 2016, SE Factory has graduated more than 130 students with a 90% hiring success rate from small to large companies in seven countries, helping youth across Lebanon access great careers in tech and achieve financial security.
DOT provides digital training courses to young people across Lebanon who have the passion and will to use digital technology to support their entrepreneurial initiatives and professional or personal advancement. In partnership with Maharat Min Google and Facebook BluePrint, DOT launched #EducationAnywhere, a social media-based program that provides online learning pathways to youth from diverse backgrounds. Participants can follow a weekly lesson plan with pre-selected courses to help them understand customer behaviors online, increase their engagement, and take an online business to the next level, among other topics. Each week, a DOT trainer guides these trainings through live Q&A sessions using Google’s Meet platform. Visit this page to find out more about exciting ways to learn in-demand skills in digital technology.
DOT Lebanon has been running youth-led programs focused on sustainable economic growth and technology in education since 2003. Youth trained with DOT Lebanon have access to income-generating opportunities through B.O.T, an impact sourcing platform that provides high-quality digital services in data management, e-commerce, call centers, and AI training data to small, medium, and large organizations in the private and public sectors.
These impactful social enterprises are part of the Alfanar portfolio, the first venture philanthropy organization in the Arab region that provides funding, management support, training and mentorship to social enterprises focused on education, job creation, and women empowerment. Social enterprises in Alfanar’s portfolio receive financial and technical support to grow their social impact, reach more youth, and enhance their financial sustainability.