The Journey of Inclusion in Lebanese Schools
In January 2012, the Ministry of Education and higher Education (MEHE) launched an inclusion strategy which hadn’t been put into implementation in all public schools due to the unavailability of funding. The Regional inclusion conference organised as part of the Connecting Classrooms programme and held in Abu Dhabi in February 2013, opened doors to local policy makers to have discussions and benefit from the UK expertise.
As a result, the Lebanese delegation, with the British Council’s contribution towards developing inclusive education provision, agreed to take the necessary steps to launch the National Day for Students with learning difficulties on Monday 22 April 2013. Furthermore a set of workshops, facilitated by UK consultants, was organised throughout the same week. A Memorandum of Understanding was thus established between MEHE- the Ministry of Education and higher Education, SKILD- Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences, CERD- Centre for Educational Research and Development and the British Council as a framework of collaboration towards supporting inclusion in Lebanon.
In his speech, British Ambassador to Lebanon, Tom Fletcher, described the event as follows:
“You are giving people the opportunity to prove themselves. They don't want pity. They want respect. It is brilliant that you have this event, that you have this Day.”
Following this great move, a conference was set up facilitated by UK experts on Thursday May 23rd, 20013. It aimed to support the development of inclusive practice by enabling policy makers, practitioners, and professionals from Lebanon to collaborate together.
The extensive work did not stop here. In the year 2014 the following events took place. First, The National Day for Students with Learning Difficulties was celebrated on Tuesday April 22nd, 2014. Second, A Directory of Schools to cater for students with learning difficulties and Special needs was produced with 5000 copies distributed among schools across Lebanon.
The aim of the Directory is to help parents and educators looking for schools that cater for children with learning difficulties in their respective regions. Third, an awareness raising campaign took place during the month of April. It aimed at shedding the light on the rights and needs of students with learning difficulties and special needs. Finally, The British Council in Lebanon organised a delegation of 14 policy makers to participate in the Second Regional Inclusion conference which was held from 18 till 22 May 2014 in Muscat, Oman.
The delegates had the chance to review and assess the impact of the UK inclusion study visit on the Lebanese system and report as a group on the Lebanese Inclusion Journey since the first Regional Inclusion conference back in Abu Dhabi (February 2013) to date. As a result, the British Council Lebanon will be commissioning a professor from the Lebanese University – Faculty of Education to develop a research paper on the impact of the inclusion work in Lebanon. Lebanon will be used as a “show piece” at the next Global Inclusion conference – which will be held on 8 & 9 December 2014 in Dubai. The story continues: an updated plan of action was established by the Lebanese group including a clear set of objectives and goals for the years to come.
The British Council is extremely proud of the partnership with MEHE, CERD, SKILD, and the private Institutions in terms of joining efforts and commitment to achieve an inclusive society and culture across Lebanon.
Donna McGowan, British Council Director in Lebanon said “It’s about doing the right thing in the right way”.