With a rapidly changing world, reflecting on how education brings learning experiences for the next generation to make a lasting difference becomes crucial. As part of the internal forum the British Council held recently in the Dead Sea, Jordan, our fellow Hiba Ibrahim was invited, in addition to another 6 experts in the fields of entrepreneurship, the arts, education and gender equality, to speak to the British Council MENA staff and lead individual workshops on challenges and opportunities the region is to face for the next decade. Hiba has been involved in projects to create effective solutions to some of those stressing challenges and avenues for international organizations to pursue effective collaboration for creating change. Bringing her educational career, academic research and personal projects to the discussion, Hiba highlighted two main challenges the region’s education has continued to struggle with for decades. The first lies in the fact that national curriculums are still not equipping learners with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to be become independent engaged learners. Teachers are still heavily relying on textbooks as curriculum and content coverage is still the learning goal to achieve. Alternatively, learning goals should lie in empowering students with competences that enable them to transfer their learning into unique situations to solve challenges they experience in their local communities and beyond. Hiba then shared about her course project she has been building as part of her fellowship with KDSL Global, which aims to promote design thinking and collaboration strategies to become more effective problem-solvers and globally competent citizens.
The other challenge she highlighted was refugee students with no access to a quality basic education. This has caused a lot of tension in host communities and made 86,000 Syrian students in Jordan and 480,000 others in Lebanon vulnerable. Due to the on-going conflicts in Libya and Yemen, around 2,300,000 children are in need of education. For that, social-emotional learning and professional development programs for teachers and school leaders on social inclusion and dealing with PSTD are a must. Showcasing effective solutions, Hiba highlighted her work with Umnyat for Training, an NGO started by her mother that brings “Labeeb’s Friends”, a program that promotes social emotional learning through storytelling to schools in Jordan and other countries in the region such as Kuwait and Palestine. She also stressed on the positive impact of intercultural dialogue that bring students of different backgrounds to a space where they feel safe and open to share perspectives on topics such as culture, religion, daily life, community, immigration, conflict and challenges to learn how to be more understanding and accepting to one another.
The day was concluded with bringing those conversations into a workshop to inspire the organization’s staff to reflect on solutions they can drive with other stakeholders in the region to take part in the region’s growth and development for the upcoming decade.