American Univesity of Beirut

UNESCO Assistant Director-General visits AUB, reviews support to heritage buildings

​​​Safa Jafari Safa, Office of Communications,​​​​​

UNESCO's Assistant Director-General (ADG) for Education Stefania Giannini visited AUB during her mission to stand in solidarity with the Lebanese people at the one year after the Beirut port blast and to look at results achieved by the Li Beirut initiative launched to place education and culture at the heart of reconstruction efforts. 

Among several campus buildings that were damaged by the blast, eight heritage buildings are being constructed with support from UNESCO. Accompanied by AUB President Fadlo Khuri, Giannini visited the buildings and was updated on the reconstruction work progress. The historic significance of those buildings was discussed, along with historic events throughout more than 150 years since the establishment of the university that involved these buildings.

The campus tour was followed by a meeting between the AUB administration and the UNESCO delegation where Giannini praised the “true social responsibility" that AUB has shown after the blasts.

“I am aware and very concerned about the brain drain from the country - the migration of faculty members, medical doctors, and nurses. If not reversed, this will add up to dramatic loss of human capital that the country cannot afford, and carries long-term social and economic consequences," said ADG Giannini.

“I am here to listen to your voices and concerns and get a hands-on sense of major issues facing the higher education sector generally, and this prestigious university in particular, so that we may explore how to step up support from the international community. Our collaboration will go beyond the rehabilitation of buildings and will continue to work together to find solutions and respond better to our challenges."    

In his speech, President Khuri welcomed the delegation and thanked UNESCO for its support in rebuilding lives and livelihoods in Beirut, protecting education and heritage, and rescuing symbols where much Arab thought emerged and regional history was shaped. He also commended the AUB-UNESCO collaboration that “has proven to be an excellent concoction of good will, high expertise, and committed support."

“The drive for knowledge, so vibrant in this magnificent university through both war and peace, is uniquely intended towards excellence for the greater good, striving for a better world," said President Khuri. “The restoration of Beirut and indeed the Arab World's finest, most treasured and most historic university stands in striking contrast to the brutality of the August 4th event."

“Rescuing AUB and Lebanon's heritage not only saves its history, but it also restores its identity and pride of place, so vital for resilient cities," he added. “Together, we stand strong and in solidarity for the continuity of quality education and service, and a better life for generations to come, that humanity, genius and purpose will intermix in these spaces to elevate all who walk through these gates many generations hence."

According to UNESCO, on August 4, 2020, at least 85,000 students saw their access to education interrupted by the explosion and 226 schools, 20 training centers, and 32 university campuses were damaged. In addition to the 40 schools, UNESCO has taken charge of the rehabilitation of 55 public schools, 20 technical and vocational education and training centers, and three universities in Beirut, with the support of the Qatar Fund for Development and Education Above All. 


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