Education for Growth and Value Creation in Lebanon
Activity: Providing vocational training to reverse the trend of migration from rural Lebanon
Name of the Organization: Promotion et Développement Social (PRODES)
Geographical reach: Lebanon
Number of beneficiaries: Direct Beneficiaries: more than 12,000 young and adult women in the rural areas of Lebanon over the past 15 years.
Project Representative: Prof. Juliana Najem
About the Project
"Education for Growth and Value Creation in Lebanon” aims to reverse the strong trend of migration from Lebanese villages to the cities by providing relevant training and fostering job opportunities locally. Through a grassroots approach, the project opens new doors for rural communities, giving future generations the option of staying in their villages and finding appropriate job opportunities.
One of the project’s pillars is the provision of training in tourism and services (e.g. rural lodges, traditional restaurants, family sports clubs, local arts and crafts, environmental projects, etc.) in order to promote tourism-related jobs in the region and develop family-based tourism in rural Lebanon. This methodology has already been used in Colombia, and the project may be replicated in Tunisia and Iraq.
In Lebanon education is generally good, and 90 percent percent of the population has access to secondary education. Nevertheless, the main focus is academic rather than technical education. In a small country with a population of 4 million, the job market is saturated with academic professionals such as lawyers, doctors and engineers. Young professionals are pushed to work abroad or in the service sector. This generates severe problems for the country: the young generations leave searching for better opportunities abroad, and those who stay work in sectors for which they were not trained, thus decreasing the quality of those services.
Despite the conflict and instability in the surrounding countries, tourism remains a source of peacemaking, economic development, and job creation in Lebanon. Additionally, tourism is a permanent source of innovation and creativity. Offering quality education for the rural youth is necessary in order to prepare them for the tourism job market. In this view, PRODES has invested 15 years in developing this educational program with the support of French experts. A competency-based program has been designed and a training program delivered to local trainers.
The educational and social solution proposed by PRODES is a qualified technical education adapted to development issues. PRODES has created its educational programs to respond to local needs and provide the necessary skills and motivation for the community to explore economic opportunities in the rural areas. The project has established a formal training program, with a specific training methodology and textbooks. While other NGOs have launched short-term training activities within a project time frame, PRODES has instead worked on a long-term strategy by launching the ‘Institute of Management and Services’ (IMS), a professional, well-equipped training structure offering a qualified training with official approval from the Ministry of Education and with European validation.
PRODES provides itinerant tailored training programs in computer literacy, languages, arts & crafts, hygiene, cultural heritage, hospitality skills. The most innovative program provided is the ‘entrepreneurship’ program for micro-businesses owners. During the workshops, micro-credit organizations present their products to the women. In the last three years, the BLC bank presented prizes to the best three projects.
The project has been funded by international donors such as: IECD/UE, UNWG-Geneve, Conseil General des Hauts de Siene-CGHS, RELEDEV/AUSAid, FFM–CD France, AL WALEED BENTALAL FOUNDATION, EU-ONAY, FTP-FPSC, FinishAid–InterCulture. It has also received support from the Japanese, the Italian and the American Embassies in Lebanon. PRODES also receives private funding. The project is seeking to ensure future funding by enlarging the number of members and promoting Civil Social Responsibility initiatives. The future objectives of the project are to sign an agreement contract with the Ministry of Tourism, re-launch the Rural Routes project, enlarge the number of participants in the training programs, start-up a modular training for young girls and offer the training in new villages. In the long run, PRODES is planning to launch a “Youth Center” to encourage university students and young professionals to invest their knowledge in social entrepreneurship, job creation and implement the projects designed by training participants.