Let’s set the scene. Over a million refugees have fled from Syria to Lebanon over the past decade, making it the country with the highest number of refugees per capita. This protracted crisis, along with the political turmoil and economic difficulties Lebanon has been facing since 2019, has increased the challenges Lebanese and Syrian youth face when pursuing higher education. Only 6% of Syrian youth are enrolled/ing in higher education institutions.
Focus groups and surveys conducted with Lebanese and Syrian students identified language barriers as a key obstacle they face – not only to their enrolment in higher education – but also to their access to the labour market.
This is where the HOPES-LEB project steps in. Funded by the European Union through the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis (the ‘EU Madad Fund’), it aims to improve the chances for a better future for young people in Lebanon. It does so by providing academic scholarships, preparation and short courses, academic counselling, and funding for innovative short-term education projects. HOPES-LEB is implemented by a consortium of European partners: the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Campus France, and Nuffic.
We have had the pleasure of collaborating with HOPES-LEB on an exceptional project this year. This project has consisted of providing HOPES-LEB scholarship students with access to online English learning courses published by ClarityEnglish, with project implementation run by Atlas English.
So, how is the project being implemented? We started by having Atlas English set up a Dynamic Placement Test (DPT) for all eligible HOPES-LEB scholarship students in February 2022. Once we had identified each student’s English proficiency, we placed them into one of three Learning Tracks. Each Learning Track consists of a series of level-appropriate asynchronous learning courses, which students work through one at a time on an independent study basis. The courses help students build a wide variety of English and study skills: from pronunciation and grammar to reading and writing.
At this early stage of the project, quantitative evidence and analysis of student progress is not yet available. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that this asynchronous approach has been effective thus far. In the words of one of the students, Bassam M.:
I can affirm that I have effectively completed my second English course, “Tense Buster” from Elementary (the basic display and display culminate) to Advanced (the detached and past culminate), and it was truly helpful. I truly delighted in each portion of it, from adjusting the common language structure botches I utilized to do, to settling my spelling botches when I have to do so. I appreciate it so much for giving me this opportunity to keep learning and I’m looking forward to more courses like this.
As the project progresses we’ll look to collect more feedback from the students; including qualitative and quantitative survey responses, and a second DPT to assess any improvement in language level. Stay tuned if you’re interested in learning more!