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Byblos Bank, UNICEF, pair up to 'Adopt a School'

As part of a new partnership launched Thursday between UNICEF and Bank Byblos called "Adopt a School," two public schools in Lebanon will be getting "a face-lift" as part of an initiative to improve educational standards and facilities in public schools.

"It is the first time that a private entrepreneur has invested in a UNICEF project and we hope it will trigger a trend for a much needed cause," said Roberto Laurenti, UNICEF representative in Lebanon at a joint news conference held at Byblos Bank Tower in Achrafieh.

The partnership pledged $200,000 for three years to two schools, Al-Noor school in Al-Mina, Tripoli and Sayyidat al-Niah School in Kesrouan, where a video documentary showed the extent of "need" and "poverty" of the schools, with their cramped, rusted, and run-down facilities.

"It is important to invest in Lebanon's most valuable asset, its people, as it will help prevent a vicious cycle of poverty and deterioration of the society, where students drop out of poorly-run schools," said Laurenti.

Students in the documentary complained about "not understanding" their lessons, "lack of books and equipment," and having to study in insanitary conditions where "pieces of the wall fall" on students' heads during lessons.

The "Adopt" project aims to provide a package of basic services, supplies, and upgrading of the professional skills of teachers and school administrators to ensure an environment conducive to the growth of all students, including those most at risk.

"Our bank is for all of Lebanon, and so we are investing in its people and its future," said Francois Bassil, Byblos general manager.

The conference also turned into a critical discussion of the problems in the education sector, the Education Ministry was criticized for being "too political" and reform projects for being mainly short-term.

"There is a lot of bureaucracy, and we are working on breaking through it, but in the meantime, where we are inefficient, society should fill in, as education is the responsibility of everyone in the society," said George Naama, a representative from the Education Ministry, who attended the conference on behalf of Minister Khaled Qabbani.

Beirut 09-05-2006
Rym Ghazal
The Daily Star



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