Under the patronage of Lebanon’s Minister of Education and Higher Education Mr. Akram Chehayeb, UNESCO Beirut and the Saint Joseph University of Beirut (USJ) launched the "University Diploma in Pedagogical Counselling", at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Education in the presence of the Director of the French Institute Ms. Véronique Aulagnon, representing France’s Ambassador to Lebanon Mr Bruno Foucher, USJ President Pr Selim Daccache, AUF Regional Director Mr. Hervé Sabourin, the Director General of the Ministry of Education Mr. Fadi Yarak, and counsellors of the Department of Pedagogical Counselling at the Ministry.
This Diploma falls in the framework of the project “Supporting Francophone Teaching and Learning in Lebanon". Funded by the Education Cannot Wait Fund (ECW) with the support of the French government, and implemented by UNESCO Beirut and the Ministry of Education, this project aims to promote the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning in French to improve student outcomes in core subjects, which will contribute to improvements in transition and retention rates. It is in this context that UNESCO, in partnership with USJ’s Faculty of Education, has designed an intensive academic program for pedagogical counsellors working at the Department of Pedagogical Counselling (DOP) at the Ministry of Education. This program is based on 24 credit hours and offers students /counsellors exposure to the newest educational approaches, thus allowing them - upon course validation - to obtain a university diploma in pedagogical counselling.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Director of UNESCO Beirut Dr Hamed al Hamami said: "When we talk about the Francophonie in Lebanon, we are talking about a lived reality, a way of thinking and a way of life. Lebanon is one of the few countries where the Francophonie is celebrated during a whole month. The French language has contributed to the cultural and linguistic diversity of this country and is well anchored in its educational system where it is taught as a second language in most public and private educational institutions”.
He added : “UNESCO promotes French - one of its six official languages and one of its two working languages. But more generally, UNESCO celebrates the Francophonie and the cultural and linguistic diversity of which it is a carrier. Every year, on the occasion of International Mother Language Day, we reaffirm our commitment to linguistic diversity and multilingualism. Languages express our being and structure our ideas and our identity. Linguistic diversity is likely to arouse curiosity and promote mutual understanding among people. Learning languages therefore carries the promise of peace, innovation and creativity”.
Al Hamami said : “In order to achieve the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Goal 4, which sets out the need to ensure inclusive and quality education for all, we have launched this innovative and ambitious project. We are all here because we believe that quality education has the potential to transform the lives of our children and youth. This educational program is designed to reinforce the capacities of teachers and counsellors and involve them concretely in the transmission of knowledge and skills to students".
In his speech, AUF Regional Director Mr. Hervé Sabourin emphasized that: "AUF can only rejoice to participate in this initiative, which is in full alignment with the strategic priorities of our organization. In fact, AUF’s mission, through its 950 education establishments spread across the world, is to improve the quality of teaching in French. This requires continuous training of the teachers and academic staff in order to build their capacities and ensure their professional development”.
USJ President Pr Selim Daccache Daccache, said: "The profession of pedagogical counselling requires a proactive approach on the part of the one who exercises it. A pedagogical counsellor speaks to the student's mind, understands his psychology, and accompanies his evolution, in order to better advise him and enable him to overcome all the obstacles that stand before his academic success”.
As to Ms Véronique Aulagnon, she highlighted in her speech the close cooperation between the French Embassy on the one hand, and UNESCO Beirut and Lebanon’s Ministry of Education on the other. Aulagnon praised the quality of French-language teaching in Lebanon, including in public institutions, despite the fact that the latter face enormous pressure, including the integration of Syrian refugee children. Ms. Aulagnon reiterated France's support for all initiatives that aim to support the Lebanese education system and strengthen its capacities, so that it can better fulfill its mission and convey the values of the Francophonie.
Closing the ceremony, Education Minister Akram Chehayeb said: "This project we have developed jointly with UNESCO Beirut and several other partners will have a concrete impact on the quality of public education in Lebanon. Pedagogical counsellors, having acquired through this university diploma key competences in pedagogical support and counselling advice, will have strengthened capacities enabling them to better support teachers and students”. He thanked the French Government for its generous support of this project through the ECW fund, UNESCO Beirut for its expertise, USJ for hosting this program, and AUF for offering its support.
At the end of the ceremony, UNESCO Beirut Director Dr Al Hamami and the USJ President Pr Daccache signed a cooperation agreement for the implementation of this program.