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Student programming a microbits

Unemployment in Lebanon is at a record high, with 47.8% unemployment in 2022. This figure is higher for Syrian nationals, with 55% out of employment and 71.9% of youth not in education, employment, or training. At the same time, however, many companies both in Lebanon and abroad are facing difficulties hiring qualified individuals—indeed, 87% of executives globally grapple with or expect to experience talent gaps in their workforce.

Among the many reasons for this labor market mismatch is that the traditional education system in Lebanon leaves little room for critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration —the very skills in high demand in the modern workforce. Rapid advancements in technology and automation also necessitate a shift towards teaching digital literacy, coding, data analysis, and AI, among others. By neglecting to integrate such skills into their curriculum, schools risk leaving their students unprepared for the evolving job market, hindering their potential for success in an increasingly competitive and technologically-driven world.

Our students working on micro:bits

Our Rationale

With a decade of implementing education programs for Syrian children and youth, Jusoor has gained a deep understanding of the unfortunate reality that many children have missed out on too much of their schooling to progress to higher education or secure traditional jobs. In response, we piloted a project in Lebanon to teach adolescents the most practical and pertinent skills to meet skill gaps and earn decent work. 6 Our pilot was successfully implemented with 32 adolescents at our centers in Jurahiya (Bekaa) and Nabaa (Beirut).

In resource-scarce crisis contexts, how can we empower children with the essential skills for a prosperous future in the face of adversity?

Our Curriculum

Our project targets three areas of future skill learning: beginner coding and robotics; critical thinking and problem-solving; and English language skills. The first component employs CodeBrave's curriculum, which emphasizes project-based learning to acquire fundamental programming techniques. Refugee adolescents are taught how to use block-based coding language, debug and troubleshoot coding issues, understand Microbit platform hardware components and sensors, exercise design thinking and prototyping on a basic level, and collaborate with others on group coding projects.

Problem-solving and critical thinking activities were identified by the World Economic Forum as vital for the future of work. Jusoor has also incorporated this skill-building through innovative activities and games, many of which were designed by our teachers and co-created by the students as they identify and analyze issues in their neighborhood, such as recycling. Our students also benefit from English language lessons, fostering proficiency in this essential skill for global employability.

Our Students

32 Syrian adolescents, aged 12–17 years, participated in our pilot. The majority were born in Syria but had to relocate to Lebanon due to the conflict. Most now live in tents or temporary shelters, lacking access to proper housing and basic amenities, and even those in apartments are in impoverished neighborhoods that are overpopulated and lack services and safety. Families struggle to find stable employment and an adequate income to meet their needs. As a result, many children have already started working to make ends meet.

Only around half of our adolescent participants are enrolled in formal education, many of whom face frequent disruptions in their learning due to conflict and displacement, including significant gaps in their schooling, which hampers their academic progress and future prospects. Indeed, 19% of our participants are not in any form of schooling, mostly due to the need to generate income. Despite this disruption, the children show a strong determination to obtain decent work opportunities in order to support their families.

Pie graph showing Jusoor's students sex and education distribution

Our Impact

By the end of our pilot, 100% of participants were able to create simple programs and animations to create interactive projects on the Microbit platform and apply coding concepts to solve real-world problems. They also practiced collaborating together and learned critical thinking skills, which 97% were observed to have gained in comparison to the baseline of 2.3%.

32 Students 12-17 years in our Jurahiya & Beirut centers.

86% showed significant improvement across all topics.

62% is the average percentage of improvement across all topics.

Ultimately, our Future Skills Project aims to equip marginalized youth with a lifelong love of learning and basic digital literacy, enabling them to continue learning through online content. We hope this exposure will allow them to grasp that such careers not only exist but are real possibilities for decent work in their future. This is particularly important for women, who are still underrepresented in technology, making up only 26% of the industry overall.

“The Future Skills Project helped us change our mindset in such a way that now nothing is impossible.”

Zeinab, 13 years old, Jusoor Beirut Center

Our Vision

Our vision for the next iteration of this project is evidence-based, informed by adolescents’ voices and conversations with experts in upskilling and refugee employment, captured in our forthcoming research paper, Liberating Education in Crisis-Contexts: The Case of Lebanon.

Starting Young: our pilot findings and conversations with experts supporting employability of university graduates have taught us that upskilling must start even younger to give our adolescents a headstart in the labor market. To this end, we will include pre-teens aged 10–12 and adapt our curriculum to younger developmental stages accordingly.

Curriculum Expansion:

  • Coding and Robotics: our pilot cohort expressed excitement and hunger to learn more, so in addition to offering Level 1 courses to new students, we will offer Levels 2 and 3, the latter with Python. Employers have also highlighted the talent gap among data scientists, data analysts, and AI programmers, basics of which we will introduce in the next iteration.
  • English Language: mastery of spoken and written business English continues to be critical in the global marketplace. Through partnering with experts in teaching English as a second language to Arabic speakers, we aim to incorporate practical business communication skills, such as preparing for interviews, resume writing, emails, and reports, among others.
  • Critical Thinking: remains an essential soft skill which we will enhance through advanced cognitive challenges that push creativity, collaborative problem-solving and design thinking

Future Targets: We aim to triple our impact in our Future Skills Program 2.0:

  • Reach 100 Syrian refugee adolescents aged 1017 in our Jurahiya and Beirut centers, offering beginner and intermediate levels of Future Skills courses.
  • Support 90% of students to demonstrate improvement across all topics. Achieve 75% margin of improvement across all topics
  • Motivate the majority of our students to explore new careers and grow in confidence

Power Us

If you are keen to join us to transform lives and forge pathways to success for Syrian children and youth, we would be thrilled to make this vision a reality together.

Thanks to

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