Would you like to make English your default language, on this site? |
A new educational centre has opened in the heart of Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, in the hope of giving Lebanese children a chance to enhance their skills and find a safe and healthy haven away from the city’s politically tense daily life.
The first challenge, however, was to find a safe haven for the centre. In 2006, Etudia, which is Italian for studio, initially launched in the old Beirut quarter of Achrafieh. Six months later, the centre shut down during the war with Israel that summer. Attempts at reopening were delayed by Hezbollah-led opposition’s 16-month-long sit-in in downtown Beirut.
Finally, in July 2008, the centre relocated to the western Beirut neighbourhood of Qoreitem.
Using a French method of education as its curriculum, Etudia offers holistic educational programmes for 4-year-olds through to secondary school students, with services such as a day-care centre, after-school tutorial courses and summer holiday programmes. “I think I am the only one in the Middle East who is using this technique,” Etudia managing partner Selim Al-Kara told the Daily Star Lebanon on 5 September 2008, describing his centre as a “backup school” that aimed to build upon Beirut’s school educational programmes.
Although the centre targets children with disabilities and weaknesses, Al-Kara told the Daily Star Lebanon that most of the students are “brilliant” and come to the centre to maintain their high standards of education, as well as learn additional language or musical skills.
The centre’s daily after-school program offers two separate programs: primary students participate in study programs for an hour and a half, followed by musical or art activities. Older students take study sessions based upon one of Etudia’s two educational methodologies.
The first method accentuates the value of one-on-one tutoring, while the other brings together small groups of students with similar learning needs.
Al-Kara believes his centre’s advantage is the fact that it addresses students’ individual needs, which may not be possible in crowded classrooms.
“The teacher will have no time to target the needs of individual children, and so some will advance while others stay behind,” he said. “This is the old methodology. The new methodology involves one-on-one teaching.”
The centre also assists students with holistic issues that may inhibit their learning process: Teachers monitor students for signs of learning difficulties, so that any psychological needs may be detected early on.
Etudia’s tutors are monitored by the organisation to ensure that they are utilizing the correct methodology in their lessons and maintaining a high standard of education.
“This is really an important issue,” Al-Kara said, “as the parents are often at work and don’t know what’s happening.”
At Etudia’s day-care centre, Al-Kara implements the same policy of having a low teacher-student ratio.
“We aim to give them what they need and deserve,” he told The Daily Star Lebanon. “They deserve to have someone look after them, not just be one of 17 children [in a normal day-care facility].”
At press time, the day-care centre had one student, with hopes of more enrolling as Etudia becomes more recognized. Twelve pre-primary and primary students were enrolled in Etudia’s summer school revision program, which included two nutritious meals as part of the study package.