"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness" is a proverb that Hanan thinks applies perfectly to her personal life, as much as to her approach to her role as a teacher and educator, given the current difficult situation the country is going through.
Hanan Baker is a young woman from the village of Dour, Caza of Nabatiyeh, South Lebanon.
She is 24 years old and originally aspired to become a doctor. However, her financial situation dictated otherwise, which led her to pursue a different curriculum. She now holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a master's degree in linguistics. Aside from teaching, she already took 25 courses on various other subjects.
"Learning improved my social skills considerably. I’m so enthusiastic about it," she says.
She has been working within the Back To The Future (BTF) program since 2020 at the Phoenix Forum center, a local partner to BTF in Ansar, South Lebanon.
Hanan taught "Basic Literacy and Numeracy" (BLN) classes for out-of-school children aged 10-14 years old and "Foreign Language Course" (FLC) support classes during summer for in-school children.
She attended different trainings with the BTF program: on the basics of BLN curricula, child protection risks and referral pathways, lesson planning, classroom management, teaching strategies, learning outcomes assessment, and foreign language teaching techniques for out-of-school/ in-school children.
"With the pandemic-imposed confinement, we lost effective communication with children. We as teachers had to challenge ourselves to improve our own skills," Hanan explains.
She attended trainings on how to tackle teaching in a virtual setting, while engaging vulnerable refugees’ children and students with special needs, along with information on basic digital skills, including filming and editing.
She learned how to be creative and make the best use of digital tools, eventually allowing innovative methodologies for student-teacher interactions. She produced many simplified educational videos of her lessons.
Her new methods were so successful that she was suddenly faced with a new challenge: "Word of mouth spread fast and there were even more children signing up for classes!"
Given the economic crisis and the pandemic aftermath in Lebanon, some children dropped out of school to work and assist their parents. Hanan persisted and showed care to each and every student she had, adapting to their availability.
"Education is their tool, for wherever they go, in any field of work, reading and writing empowers them," the teacher states.
Hanan said that the BTF project helped her in many fields: capacity building, access to digital resources and devices, communication skills and tools, teaching techniques and bringing forth new innovative ideas.
Furthermore, being engaged in the project improved her life on a personal level: "A working woman gets a sense of equality with men, and a feeling of being an active and productive member in society."
Hanan is a firm believer that working women have an active role in the advancement of society. Working during the country’s difficult times allowed her to support her family on a financial level. What Hanan is very proud of is the fact that she invested in her younger brother’s college education.
Now, Hanan is looking into enrolling for a PhD in English literature and education.
About Back to the Future
Back to the Future is funded by the European Union, through the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis, the EU Madad Fund, and implemented in partnership with AVSI, Terre des Hommes Italy in Lebanon, and War Child Holland in Lebanon.