Students graduate from EU-supported agricultural course (24/02/2015)

 

   Beirut, 16 February 2015 

 

PRESS RELEASE

Students graduate from EU-supported agricultural course

 

H.E. Minister of Agriculture, Akram Shehayeb, and the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst handed over certificates to one hundred and twenty Lebanese and Syrian students on Monday 16 February after completing the first course for agricultural workers in Lebanon as part of the European Union funded 'Peaceful and Comprehensive Education in Seven Districts of Lebanon' project. The graduation ceremony took place at the Order of Engineers in Beirut.

This project, which is funded by the European Union with a €700,000 grant and implemented by the Italian NGO AVSI Foundation, aims to support the seven Ministry of Agriculture vocational schools and to provide educational opportunities for aspiring agricultural technicians. It will assist the Ministry of Agriculture to develop its curricula and provide the school teachers with an opportunity to further enhance their skills. The schools in question will benefit, through this action, from rehabilitation support, and Lebanese, as well as Syrian pupils, will have access to an agricultural vocational training that will help increase livelihood and job opportunities. The action will ultimately support Lebanese farmers increase the yield from their land and offer consumers better produce.

A short documentary entitled “New Horizons” and directed by Philip Bajjaly, was shown during the ceremony. It reflected the positive impact that the action had on the lives of the students, teachers, and directors, as well as on the Ministry of Agriculture officials in charge of the “Extension and Education Service Department”.

The Project Manager at AVSI Foundation, Marina Molino Lova, highlighted how the support of the European Union was fundamental to enable an improvement of the structures of the schools, from the installation of tunnels to that of greenhouses, in addition to the enrolment of 35 teachers who were offered the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and transfer it to the participating students.

Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst said: "Today we celebrate the energy of motivation, connection within a community, a sense of belonging, responsibility and accomplishments. This graduation is a testimony to the determination to succeed and move forward."  "This action is part of the European Union's response to the consequences on Lebanon of the Syrian war. Since 2012, the European Union alone has granted almost €450 million in support to Lebanon, and the member states provided a similar amount" she added.

Minister Shehayeb said: "I am glad that today, through a Euro-Lebanese cooperation, we are lighting the first candle that will bring light to the paths of 120 Lebanese and Syrian students who have been united by the most difficult circumstances imposed by the continuous and destructive war in Syria." "And with this first candle, at the agricultural level, I thank the European Union that has always strived with us to alleviate the burdens through several projects, including 'Peaceful and Comprehensive Education in Seven Districts of Lebanon.'

The course ran from 1 September to 20 November, at the seven Ministry of Agriculture vocational schools in Lebanon. Director of Fondazione Minoprio's technical school, Dr. Anna Zottola, has followed the teachers since May 2014, through twinning in Italy and training sessions in Lebanon. She helped them to elaborate, for the first time, practical exams for the students, avoiding the traditional theoretical written exams, as well as grafting, transplantation and sowing exercises. 

Through this course, students had the opportunity to participate to five cultural ateliers, elaborated specifically by the Lebanese NGO BILADI, which included discovering aspects of the shared rural heritage among Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian students, as well as culinary, music and dance activities.