19.12.2018 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

UNESCO Beirut launches the pilot project « Learn with the intangible cultural heritage for a sustainable future »


On 18 December 2018, UNESCO Beirut, in partnership with the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO (LNCU), launched a pilot project titled «Learn with the Intangible Cultural Heritage for a sustainable future» that target Lebanese public and private schools member of UNESCO’s associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet). The project aims at integrating intangible cultural heritage into education through raising students’ awareness on the contribution of intangible cultural heritage to sustainable development and the importance of its protection.

The project is in line with Lebanon’s commitment to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, after the country ratified in 2007 UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of 2003, and is grounded in UNESCO Beirut’s cooperation with the Ministry of Culture to develop a national cultural policy to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage.

Against this backdrop, and to launch the pilot project, UNESCO Beirut and LNCU organized on 18 December 2018 a training workshop for teachers of four public and private schools in Saida and Jezzine ( Dr. Hikmat Sabbagh Public High School For Girls (Yomna El Eid), Rafik Hariri Scondary School, Jezzine Secondary School, and College Notre Dame Machmoucheh). The training workshop, which took place at the Outreach and Leadership Academy (OLA) in Saida, aimed at introducing the teachers to means of integrating intangible cultural heritage elements into the courses they teach, and linking intangible cultural heritage to sustainable development.

High-level personalities visited the training workshop, including: MP Mrs Bahiya al Hariri, head of the Education and Culture Committee at the Parliament; Engineer Mostafa Hijazi, member of the Saida Municipal Council and representative of the Mayor Mohammad al Saoudi; Engineer Joseph Kreidi, Programme Specialist of Culture at UNESCO Beirut; Mrs Christiane Jeitani, representative of LNCU’s Secretary General Dr Tala Zein; Dr Annie Tabet, accredited UNESCO expert in Intangible Cultural Heritage; and Mr Nabil Bawab, general coordinator of the network of schools of Saida and its neighborhood.

In her speech, MP Bahiya al Hariri praised this project, emphasizing its importance in enriching the new generation and raising its awareness on cultural memory and intangible heritage. Hariri stressed that the project will reinforce the students’ feeling of belonging to their country, through introducing them to their cultural heritage. Hariri encouraged the trainees to become themselves trainers, and instill in their peers an understanding of the value of intangible cultural heritage and the importance of safeguarding it.

In his turn, Mr Joseph Kreidi said: " Intangible cultural heritage is today under threat, because of the dynamics of globalization, and because of lack of support and appreciation of its value. And if cultural heritage is not properly cared for, it may be at risk of being lost forever or becoming a vestige of the past”. Kreidi highlighted the importance and the attention UNESCO devotes to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, as a means to preserve cultural diversity and promote intercultural dialogue and understanding. He added that this pilot project which aims at integrating intangible cultural heritage into school curricula is a step toward raising the new generation’s awareness of the necessity of preserving this form of cultural heritage as a means of preserving one’s own identity.

As to Mrs. Christiane Jeitani, she stressed that the novelty of this pilot project consists in adopting a new approach in formal and non-formal educational programmes to highlight the link between intangible cultural heritage on the one hand, and sustainable development and the socio-economic welfare of communities on the other hand. She indicated that the project adopts a holistic approach by covering and targeting all subject matters taught in schools, from science to literature and language courses.

The workshop covered a variety of topics, including: an overview presentation of the project; a presentation of UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of 2003 and its main principles and objectives; the relation between intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development.

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