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Alwan and Alwan Junior

Adyan's 'Alwan' and 'Alwan Junior' programmes build the capacity of young people in Lebanon to positively manage diversity

Photo of Caroline Thomas
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Adyan launched Alwan in 2007 as a response to growing sectarian tension among young Lebanese, and an acknowledgment of the responsibility and opportunity for education to address this challenge within the school framework. 

Adyan responded to this situation and created Alwan to treat ignorance, segregated wounded memories, and negative feelings towards religious diversity that feed sectarian attitudes. Over the past 12 years, the Alwan program has reached a total of 67 High-Schools, 208 educators and 4,716 graduates. In 2018, Alwan Junior was launched, with a focus on younger students.

In place of sectarian and negative divisions, Alwan and Alwan Junior build the capacity of students to positively manage diversity and to contribute to building a new culture of living together in the framework of proactive and inclusive citizenship.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the temporary closure of schools, however, means the programmes must be adapted to take place online.

Via Adyan's online learning platform - www.TeachCoexistence.com - Adyan was able to transform Alwan and Alwan Junior to take place via virtual groups and meetings. (TeachCoexistence is an online space for learning and teaching related to citizenship, FoRB, and living together in solidarity and peace. The platform is managed by Adyan Foundation’s Institute of Citizenship and Diversity Management.)

In addition, rather than planned in-person activities such as community service and a graduation, creative alternatives are being planned. These alternatives will give an opportunity for continued relationship-building, achievement of milestones, and will also endeavour to respond to emerging needs of communities in Lebanon.

The overall aim is to create a generation of empowered and active young citizens who are ready to be role models in peaceful coexistence, at a time when the world needs to live in solidarity.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

In mainstream education there is limited focus on the importance of digital literacy. However in Lebanon, and around the world, the use of the internet for disseminating hate speech is increasing. According to HateBase (www.hatebase.org, a web-based application that analyses hate speech globally), the majority of hate speech cases target individuals based on ethinicity and nationality, with hate speech focusing on religion and class on the rise. Issues of 'fake news' or viral misinformation campaigns, and online bullying especially of young people, are also pervasive online problems. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Secretary-General has warned of a 'tsunami of hate', with a rise in hate speech and xenophobia. He called on educational institutions to focus on digital literacy. With education taking place online during the pandemic, the hope is that educational institutions will no longer ignore these important issues and will include digital literacy in curricula.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

Founded in 2006, Adyan is a foundation for Diversity, Solidarity and Human Dignity. Adyan implements its projects in cultural, educational, media, policymaking, social, and spiritual fields. Besides the support of its members, the foundation also benefits from the commitment of its networks of youth, volunteers, ambassadors, families, social activists, and honorary members, in addition to its qualified professional team. 

What region are you located in?

  • Western Asia

Where are you located?

Adyan Foundation is based in Beirut, Lebanon

4 comments

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Spam
Photo of Peter Worth
Team

Hello Caroline, I'm Peter, a community coach for this challenge. Thank you for sharing your idea and the work your organization is doing. I'm interested to hear more about how young people are experiencing the community and peace-building programs on line, compared to the in-person experiences. Are there any elements of this new delivery format that you might want to bring forward after the pandemic? Thank you!

Spam
Photo of Caroline Thomas
Team

Hi Peter and thank you for your comment. There has been positive feedback and enthusiasm from the young people about Alwan online. Some feedback, from students and educators, is that it can be easier to find the time to be available for discussions, since there is no longer time required for travel/transport. Following the pandemic, the Alwan management may consider keeping online meetings, since it has made regular connection and communication easier.

In addition, the online community programme has created links with people from different generations and different parts of the country, which may not have happened in-person, when distance would have been a constraint.

However, in terms of social cohesion work and 'knowing the other' there is also a key role that in-person meetings can have, so it is important that - once safe - these in-person programme elements continue.

Looking ahead, Adyan is working on how to enhance its TeachCoexistence platform (which is the online learning space that was already in existence). The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that many learning aspects can take online with positive benefits, in terms of efficiency of meetings and availability of participants as mentioned above, and also environmental benefits. Furthermore, Adyan has been discussing how online learning can encourage participants who otherwise may not have been comfortable with speaking in public, to contribute - either with text, without video, or with video since some feedback suggests the online space can be less intimidating that in person. With Alwan online, we have also found it easier to monitor progress and engagement in activities on TeachCoexistence, since this can be automatically tracked.

It should be noted, however, that there are accessibility and inclusion aspects that need to be considered with online leaning, since not all participants have the resources for equal access to fast internet.

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