In alignment with our strong belief in corporate social responsibility, we have diligently been working on acquiring the first continuing education accreditation in Lebanon, in addition to launching the first series of full-fledged online continuing education courses in the region.
In addition to these two vital milestones, we will highlight three of the exceptional programs at the Continuing Education Center (CEC): University for Seniors, Syrian Refugees Educational Program, and Next Steps Program.
The University for Seniors (UfS), which is offered under the umbrella of CEC, is the first of its kind life-long learning initiative at AUB, in Lebanon and the Middle East. As much as education is critical for youth, so it is for adults above 50 years of age. Through UfS, the more experienced niche of our society are provided with the opportunity to delve into new learning experiences; allowing them to share their wisdom, passion, and interact socially with other seniors, AUB faculty, and students. This program offers a variety of activities, including study groups, lectures, educational travel programs, social gatherings and campus events that expose members to the many cultural and educational resources of the university. In 2017-18 alone, 509 seniors registered for the program, which offered a myriad of topics across 102 lectures. The astounding results the UfS program has been exhibiting to date has placed UfS, AUB, and Lebanon on the WHO map of ageing programs in middle-income countries.
With more than 1,300 applicants to the Syrian Refugees Educational Program in 2017, only 215 (98 men and 117 women) were selected ranging between the ages of 18 and 35. These men and women enrolled in one of five teaching certificate programs (for school teachers), two professional development programs (for university dropouts and university graduates), and English language courses for effective communication. The invaluable skills they gain will benefit them, their families, and their communities at large in Syria where they will work and live. It is noteworthy to mention that the program is the outcome of a generous gift of approximately $2.5 million by an AUB trustee towards providing Arabized training programs targeting more than 1,700 Syrian refugees over the period of five years. The highlight of this program was the graduation of the first batch of students in 2018.
The Next Step program, also offered under CEC, is similarly the first of its kind in the region. This program is exceptionally designed to provide individuals with intellectual challenges with the life skills and vocational know-how they need to seek legal employment, participate in community life, and achieve independent living. This learning experience is manifested through courses that include English, Arabic, math, computer skills, and expressive arts. By the end of the program, a team of experienced special education instructors follows up on the students' implementation of the skills they learned, evaluates their impact, and accommodates their placement and employment. In 2017-2018, 13 students had enrolled in the program and the outcomes were very promising! The first cohort of students successfully concluded their second year of education, and the plan is to prepare for the next cohort of newcomers.
This is a unique 3-year program that includes academic courses with functional objectives as well as vocational preparation with hands on and apprenticeship experience.
The aforementioned programs are only a few of a much longer list of offerings, which AUB CEC provides to society through the AUB community. Other examples of special summer programs include the Summer Program for AUB Alumni Children (SPAAC) for AUB alumni children aged 14-17 years; Genius Mind Summer Program for children aged 7-11 years; and Future Developer Summer Program for children aged 12-18 years. Additionally, new programs and courses, which have been developed and will be highlighted in the next edition of the newsletter, comprise the Journalism and Communication Training Program (JCTP); Arbitration program for lawyers, as well as the Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment program.