about the project
Currently, schools in Lebanon offer limited education about different religions, and few opportunities for interaction between young people from different communities. This can lead to lack of awareness and understanding about different faiths, cultures and backgrounds. Education, however, has huge potential – and responsibility – to shape attitudes and behaviour. Learning about and appreciating diversity is crucial to foster generations that embrace and promote solidarity and social cohesion in Lebanon.
Given the increased pressure on Lebanese society as a result of the ongoing socio-economic crisis, there is an urgent need to implement initiatives that improve youth attitudes and understanding in favour of inter-religious understanding, and away from sectarianism. Moreover, religious education is generally delivered in Lebanon from a faith-based perspective. Education holds the potential to remedy mistrust between different communities, making the need for Alwan curriculum essential for fighting ignorance of the other and fostering the values of citizenship, diversity and coexistence.
In 2018, Adyan launched the Alwan Junior educational program for schoolchildren in Grades 3 and 4 (meaning 9 -10 years’ old). The programme provides lessons on world religions, solidarity and valuing diversity, creates opportunities for critical thinking and inter-cultural experiences, and encourages a new culture of living together. A total of 13 schools were involved.
Building on this successful first phase, this project (Alwan Junior 2021-2022) would expand to include 20 schools. Since diversity and inclusion is at the heart of the Alwan Junior programme, the students involved are not only Lebanese of diverse religious communities, but also be Syrian and Palestinian refugee children. To ensure this, 15% of target schools/learning centres involved in the project will be those that involve refugee education.
Furthermore, for its sustainability and learning continuity, this project will increase the age range to also include and develop a curriculum for Alwan Junior Grade 5. Following the development of a dedicated curriculum, Alwan Junior Grade 5 would be piloted in 5 schools with the aim of rolling-this out to additional schools under future projects. Alwan Junior 2021-2022 developed and provided a four-week online training course for educators on religious diversity. This enables current and future educators to deliver Alwan Junior in an online/blended format.
During the pilot phase, the project was implemented in five schools, before being scaled up to a total of 19, however, due to COVID-19, six schools had to cease participation in the project, leaving a total of 13 remaining schools.
By the end of the Alwan Junior 2021-2021 project, young people in Grades 3, 4 and 5 will have increased knowledge about world religions, and enhanced listening and empathetic skills. All modules are digitized, meaning they will be a permanent online resource allowing for online and/or blended learning.
This project is a core part of Adyan’s wider educational strategy, which includes Adyan’s long-running Alwan programme (for grades 10-11) and Adyan’s ‘Media Literacy against Hate Speech in Lebanon’ project (for grades 7-8).
Impact: Generations of young students in Lebanon grow up to embody and promote respect for others, the importance of having an open mind, and resistance to sectarian attitudes, contributing to greater social cohesion
Outcome 1: Young people who participate in Alwan Junior Grade 3 and/or 4 are empowered to feel comfortable in their religious beliefs and to discuss these with others; demonstrate a shift in attitude from fear of the ‘other’ to appreciation and respect for different faiths and viewpoints; and are empowered to refuse to stand by when acts of discrimination are taking place around them;
Outcome 2: Educators are skilled and empowered to deliver Alwan Junior, via a sustainable online course;
Outcome 3: Young people who participate in Alwan Junior Grade 5 demonstrate a capacity to compare different aspects of different religions; possess analytical skills concerning religions and beliefs; and are empowered to engage positively with persons from others religions and beliefs;
Outcome 4: A larger number of schools/educational centres across Lebanon, including those for Syrian and Palestinian refugees, are aware of the value of the Alwan Junior programme.