BEIRUT: The coronavirus-induced lockdown has not only forced local educational institutions to resort to innovative methods to persevere with their programs, but also non-profit organizations that consider promoting education for vulnerable communities as one of their objectives, such as the non-profit Anera.
As of the beginning of April, and in partnership with UNICEF, Anera launched 11 online pilot classes in different areas of Lebanon, using Google Class as its teaching platform.
The organization, which has helped refugees and others hurt by conflicts in the Middle East since 1968, distributed tablets and laptops to 110 students and the nine participating tutors in Lebanon.
Accompanying Anera and UNICEF’s joint efforts, Thaki, a social impact non-profit association that empowers refugee and vulnerable communities, donated all the electronic tools being used in the e-learning program.
“Now, more than ever, a spotlight is shining on the role of e-learning and digital literacy,” Thaki’s founder and president Rudayna Abdo told Annahar, adding that this highlights the importance of their work as the vulnerable populations they serve are “threatened with increased marginalization and isolation.”
In addition to training the teachers on how to efficiently use the equipment and the online platform, Anera provided both them and the students with internet cards to ensure access to the internet.
As one of the teachers, Palestinian English Literature graduate and a social worker at Women’s Programs Association Fatima Cannan told Annahar, “the positive aspect and importance of this project is that it is truly a chance for students and tutors to excel at utilizing the internet for educational purposes, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.”
The students, who come from Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian backgrounds, are underprivileged youth who were forced to drop out of school in pursuit of work, due to their financial conditions.
“Being part of a classroom becomes a crucial space for youth to interact, exchange their experiences, and help lessen the burden of lockdown isolation,” Leen Ataya, Anera Lebanon’s education program manager, told Annahar.
Exemplifying Ataya’s statement, the students enrolled in the e-learning courses, shared their enthusiasm with Annahar for partaking in the online program.
Palestinian student Nagham Abdul-Salam Zaid said that she has “already gained so much new information and improved her English,” despite having recently started learning online.
Lebanese student Mahmoud Zohbi expressed how the virus situation halted his “Elderly Care” vocational course and on-the-job training with Anera, but “for now,” he said, “I am finally learning English through the online course with Anera.”
Adding to her previous statement, Ataya described Anera’s English online courses pilot as “not just an academic experience for youth, but a beacon of light amidst this very dark period our dear Lebanon is going through.”
According to Anera’s country director Samar El Yassir, the organization, along with its vetted and trusted partners, is working closely on this project, which will be upscaled to “reach thousands of youth around Lebanon, with a focus on women and girls who are victims of gender-based violence.”
This decision has been reached upon evaluation and success of the e-learning project for the vulnerable communities they serve, given they observed more than 90% regular attendance.
Anera, which has no political or religious affiliation, works on the ground with partners in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Jordan, mobilizing resources for immediate emergency relief and sustainable, long-term health, education, and economic development.
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