One hundred and twenty Lebanese and Syrian students received their certificates after completing the first course for agricultural workers in Lebanon, as part of the European Union funded 'Peaceful and Comprehensive Education in Seven Districts of Lebanon' project.This project, which is funded by the European Union with a €700,000 grant and implemented by AVSI Foundation, aims to support the seven Ministry of Agriculture vocational schools and to provide educational opportunities for aspiring agricultural technicians.
It will assist the Ministry of Agriculture to develop its curricula and provide the school teachers with an opportunity to further enhance their skills. The schools in question will benefit, through this action, from rehabilitation support, and Lebanese, as well as Syrian pupils, will have access to an agricultural vocational training that will help increase livelihood and job opportunities. The action will ultimately support Lebanese farmers increase the yield from their land and offer consumers better produce.
But there is not only the vocational training. Through the project, students have the opportunity to participate to cultural ateliers, which include discovering aspects of the shared rural heritage among Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian students, as well as culinary, music and dance activities.The first course of the project ended in February 2015. It planned twinning in Italy, training sessions in Lebanon and, for the first time, practical exams for the students, avoiding the traditional theoretical written exams. The graduation ceremony took place at the Order of Engineers in Beirut in the presence of H.E. Minister of Agriculture, Akram Shehayeb, and the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst.
The Project Manager at AVSI Foundation, Marina Molino Lova, highlighted how the support of the European Union was fundamental to enable an improvement of the structures of the schools, from the installation of tunnels to that of greenhouses, in addition to the enrolment of 35 teachers who were offered the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and transfer it to the participating students.
Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst said: "Today we are celebrating, not only the graduation of motivated students but also the connection that one feels with the community, the surrounding and the land they grow up in. This graduation is a testimony to this sense of belonging and to the determination to succeed and move forward." "This action is part of the European Union's response to the consequences on Lebanon of the Syrian war. Since 2012, the European Union has granted almost €450 million in support to Lebanon," she added.
A short documentary entitled "New Horizons" and directed by Philip Bajjaly, was shown during the ceremony. It reflected the positive impact that the action had on the lives of the students, teachers, and directors, as well as on the Ministry of Agriculture officials in charge of the "Extension and Education Service Department".