On December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 24 students from LSESD’s Beirut Baptist School(BBS) thoroughly rehearsed the Lebanese national anthem and headed to nowhere other than the Presidential Palace itself. There, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, in partnership with UNICEF, held an official ceremony under the theme “Towards an inclusive Lebanon: Education, a right for all.”
In the presence of his excellency President General Michel Aoun and the First Lady of Lebanon Nadia Aoun, an inclusive BBS choir composed of both children with special needs and their peers sang with confidence, joy, honor and pride. The prominent audience watched as students with different behavioral challenges advocated for themselves, for inclusion and for their right to a quality education nationwide.
A call for collaboration between government ministries, private and public schools, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society groups was the message from the Presidential Palace. As an active partner to the Ministry of Education, the efforts of LSESD’s Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences (SKILD) were highlighted for its participation in training educators in the public sector on how to manage inclusive classrooms with expertise. SKILD helps educators provide quality education, using appropriate approaches and strategies that build on individual strengths and address learning needs.
Following the event, the office of the First Lady led a workshop for NGO representatives and educators to highlight the work of the current Aoun administration towards implementing inclusion in all Lebanese schools. To date, 30 public Lebanese schools practice inclusion along with many private schools of which BBS is a great role model.
BBS was founded in 1956 with the same mission that stands today: “to prepare students in mind, body and spirit to meet the challenges of this world” but most importantly, 8 years ago it started its journey towards inclusion and this year became a fully inclusive academic institution that has the ability to successfully integrate students with special needs through its SMART program.
The talented group of students that presented the National Anthem at the ceremony were the perfect representation of what it means to provide equal opportunities towards an inclusive Lebanon. At BBS, education is already a right for all. Using differentiated instructions and applied behavioral analysis strategies taught by the SKILD Center, BBS has found value in all members of its community.
Tanya Chapuisat, the UNICEF Lebanon representative, said “Inclusion is a continuous quest to find better ways to live with diversity,” while asking all stakeholders involved to invest time and resources towards advancing this mission. She then went on to emphasize that “Inclusive education is the most important pathway to inclusive societies.”
Today, LSESD, through the work of SKILD and BBS tangibly contributes towards an inclusive Lebanon that promotes diversity, respect and quality education. None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for SKILD and BBS’s faithful partners, friends and loyal supporters.
Thank you for making a difference in Lebanon and for contributing to this historic pathway for change.
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