Access to affordable and quality education in Lebanon has long been an issue, but today the entire sector is struggling under the weight of an economic crisis with no foreseeable chances of improvement.
As is the case with all other human rights fields, international, regional and local non-governmental organizations have begun to bridge the gaps in education. This includes Teach for Lebanon (TFL), an NGO working to ensure that all children in Lebanon have access to a quality education—regardless of their socioeconomic background.
“We staunchly believe that quality education is not just a simple human right but it is also a weapon to reinforce tolerance, critical thinking, and social cohesion, which leads to a more prosperous, democratic, and sustainable world,” said Salyne El Samarany, CEO of TFL.
“Thus, we relentlessly work to provide quality education, psychological support, and reintegrate of vulnerable children,” she added.
What does TFL do?
TFL is part of a 61-nation global network, Teach For All. According to Samarany, the organization’s model focuses on youth capacity building to provide quality intervention and systemic support for students in Lebanon.
“The organization only recruits the best graduates, and trains them to become TFL Fellows before placing them in schools that serve underprivileged refugee and Lebanese children,” she added.
Anybody looking for more information about the services provided by TFL and how to benefit from them can call (+961)01743754, according to Samarany.
“Fellows receive constant training and support to deal with educational disadvantages, providing transformational teaching that places their students on a path of academic success. This helps expand their horizons and visions to help them realize their full potential,” she said.
Teach for Lebanon also works with students, schools and the local community to alter mindsets through example and advocacy, in addition to organizing workshops and community-based projects for families, students, and community leaders.
Samarany also noted that her colleagues “work in orphanages, semi-free schools and public schools, in formal and non-formal education, covering both the first and second shift program to ensure quality services to underprivileged children.”
Fellows also offer psychosocial support for their students, through recreational activities and psycho-educative interventions.
What teachers think
“My role as a teacher is not limited to teaching, but surpasses that. We are personally concerned with helping and preparing students to become productive members of society,” said Ahmad Baghdadi, a TFL Fellow who works as a mathematics teacher at Sahagian College in Sin el Fil.
“In other words, we’re preparing tomorrow’s leaders,” he said, highlighting TFL’s efforts to provide quality education opportunities for low-income groups.
Around 2,300 applicants applied to become Fellows with TFL this past year, but only 60 were selected after a series of tests aimed to select the individuals most capable of carrying the organization’s vision forward.
The selected applicants then undergo a series of sessions with the Summer Institute. For a period of six weeks, from Monday to Friday, they receive intense training that prepares them to deal with all possibilities and introduces them to the best and most advanced teaching techniques.
The training doesn’t end with the Summer Institute, as Fellows continue to receive monthly workshops that add to their knowledge.
“Teachers are spread across schools all over Lebanon for a period of two year,” said Baghdadi. “Alongside their core teaching responsibilities, they hold extracurricular activities that spotlight different parts of life.”
“Some choose to focus on the importance of reading, and others focus on topics such as climate change and sustainable energy,” he said.
What students think
“They teach us about life,” Gacia Norshahiyan, a former Teach for Lebanon student, told Beirut Today. “I graduated from school this year, and received a ‘very good’ mark in my official baccalaureate exams.”
The 17-year-old wanted to thank her teachers for caring about their students in the past few years, “They teach us subjects in class, but they also teach us about life. They encourage and motivate us to participate in activities and everyday situations we come across to further discover our talents, capabilities and skills.”
In English, she expressed her joy and gratitude for having graduated with a very good mark.
“If there is one thing I can’t forget, then it is the presence of the TFL teachers who came into my life and helped me lay out my mission and vision for the future. I was always smiling around them,” she said.