Learn with the intangible cultural heritage for a sustainable future

, Lebanon

On 20 December 2019, UNESCO Beirut and the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO (LNCU) concluded a series of 3 workshops addressed to educational institutions and the Ministry of Education on «Learn with the intangible cultural heritage for a sustainable future».

These workshops aimed to raise awareness among decision makers, educators, principals, teachers and students about the contribution of intangible cultural heritage to sustainable development and the importance of its protection, based on the achievements of UNESCO/LNCU’s pilot project "Learning with Intangible Heritage for a Sustainable Future" implemented by Lebanese ASPnet Schools and non ASPnet schools.

This project, based and inspired by the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of 2003 signed by Lebanon in 2007, was implemented in the framework Lebanon’s Cultural Policy to safeguard the Intangible Cultural Heritage adopted by the Ministry of Culture, thanks to the assistance of UNESCO Beirut Office, and that emphasizes the importance of integrating Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in education.

The awareness workshops consisted in introducing educational institutions in Lebanon to the ICH Convention, and the methodology adopted by the Lebanese pilot schools in integrating ICH elements in certain subjects of the secondary school curriculum. They also aimed at developing the skills of teachers in regard to the protection of ICH in order to enable them to raise awareness of the youth, mainly middle and secondary levels, about this matter.

The first workshop was organized in collaboration with the school network of Sidon and the neighborhood; the second was addressed to UNESCO ASPnet and educational institutions in Lebanon; and the third was organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and was addressed to educators and experts from the Ministry and the Center for Research and Development (CERD). During the workshops, teachers who participated in the pilot project were invited to share their experiences and experiences.

Speaking of the importance of the workshops, UNESCO Beirut’s Programme Specialist for Culture, Engineer Joe Kreidi, stated: “ICH, like culture in general, is in constant change and development and gets richer with each new generation. Many forms of expression and manifestations of ICH are threatened and endangered by globalization and lack of appreciation and protection. If ICH is not properly taken care of, it may be at risk of being lost forever or becoming a thing of the past. The preservation of this heritage and its transmission to future generations is of utmost importance to keep it alive while at the same time allowing it to evolve” . He added: “In order to safeguard ICH, we need to take measures that are different from those used to preserve historical monuments and natural sites. In order to keep ICH alive, it must remain an integral part of a culture and be practiced and taught regularly in communities and among generations. Moreover, the societies and groups that practice these traditions and customs everywhere in the world have their own systems for transferring their knowledge and skills, and usually rely on oral transmission instead of written texts. Hence,  intangible heritage cannot be safeguarded in isolation from the local communities, groups and individuals who carry such heritage”. Kreidi thus spoke of the value and importance of the pilot project  «Learn with the intangible cultural heritage for a sustainable future» in raising youth awareness on ICH, and in integrating ICH into education curricula.

The workshops also included live performances and exhibitions of ICH. Hence, one of the workshops featured a live performance of the presumably oldest classical dance heritage of India,  Bharatanatyam dance, by Mr Ajay Singh, Culture officer and specialist of Bharatanatyam dance. The closing workshop featured an exhibition of ancient musical instruments by famous Lebanese artist and musician Nasser Makhoul.