Under the Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR) funded by the UK Department for International Development, the Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access (PADILEIA) aims to facilitate access to higher education for those displaced and affected by the Syrian crisis in Jordan and Lebanon. According to the UNHCR, legal documentation, high student fees, the lack of capacity in educational institutions, and language are the main barriers preventing refugees from entering higher education; these barriers are then compounded by specific legal and political contexts that vary locally and nationally, and potential students who may not be able to pay even modest fees. With an enormous youth population, a generation of Syrians are at risk of being a lost generation in terms of higher education.
Program and Delivery
AUB-CCECS with support from the lead partner King’s College London, is implementing a blended Foundation Certificate in two Ghata study hubs located in Bar Elias, Bekaa, with the aim to prepare Syrian refugee and vulnerable host community youth for entry or re-entry into higher education. The eight-month blended learning program provides, over two semesters, foundational skills in English, Humanities, Math and Science and transferable skills in Information Technology. Each cohort includes 50 students, divided into two sections, the morning and afternoon shifts. Curriculum is developed by AUB professors from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences with the support from King’s College London in the online component to ensure quality assurance. In-person teaching occurs by part-time instructors closely supervised by the faculty leads. Upon graduation, students will earn a certificate from AUB.
The online component constitutes 25% of the program. Online modules are collaboratively developed and designed by King’s online team and AUB faculty leads with the use of Google Classroom as the main platform. An intensive training on online teaching is delivered on a yearly basis to the local instructors by King’s online team during the month of January at AUB. Regular calls between AUB faculty leads, local instructors and the instructional designer from King’s online happen throughout the eight-month program for constant follow-up and assessment of the online component of the project to meet students’ academic needs.