With “Terdad Youth”, UNESCO innovates with education through the arts
In no hurry to return home once classes are over, the students of the School of Three Doctors, in Beirut, remain seated behind their desks and wait for brand new teachers at the end of the day. There, it is no longer a question of maths or sciences. Books and calculators disappear to make way for pencils, drawing paper and various films, as artists from 4 associations specializing in different art forms come to work with the young people around the values of global citizenship, through theatre, music, cinema and the creation of comic strips. And this within the framework of the UNESCO project titled “Terdad Youth”, which follows the TERDAD festival that took place in July with these same associations, to revive cultural life in Beirut.
“As part of the Li Beirut initiative, UNESCO is supporting the education sector in Lebanon after the port explosions,” explains Marco Pasqualini, Education Specialist at UNESCO Beirut. This involves the physical reconstruction of school buildings but also work on the content to transmit critical values to young students. It is in times of crisis that we must learn to live together and to make things evolve in the right direction. The “Terdad Youth” project was therefore created with this in mind to teach through the arts, because we believe that it is the best way to deal with difficult subjects that affect our life experience. This marriage between culture, education and the arts is quite natural. »
Innovative, the approach integrates different artistic disciplines into the educational projects of several Lebanese schools, and contributes to the achievement of learning objectives related to civic education, peace building and respect for diversity. “Through this project, we are taking part in Global Citizenship Education (GCED), adds Marco Pasqualini. This theme is very important to encourage the building of more just, peaceful and sustainable societies. It is a ‘transformative’ learning that lasts a lifetime but begins in school. With this project, artists from the associations Irtijal, Metropolis, Samandal and Zoukak work together with students and teachers to induce a positive change in behavior through the arts. And we hope that the teachers who work with the artistswill replicate the experience on a daily basis in the different subjects they teach. »
While the young Rami is finalizing a comic strip where he emphasizes the need to keep morale up in times of crisis, he says that the courses allow him to develop his drawing skills. “It helps me to have more fluidity in my ideas and to be able to express my emotions as I feel,” he says, accompanied by artist Fadi Syriani, from the Samandal collective. The latter emphasizes the fact that the experience is “very engaging and enriching for the participants but for the mentor artists as well”. “Through a series of workshops, the artists of Samandal introduce new tools of expression for young students,” he says. Young people are receptive and eager to learn new creative and artistic languages such as animation, comics and illustration, to enable them to better express their feelings, fears, concerns and aspirations. An experience that opens the eyes to hidden potential and opportunities. »
In another classroom, Mazen tries his hand at improvisation with the Zoukak theater company, and discovers acting skills. Enjoying the project, he promises to nurture this talent in the future. “I didn’t know that I had such a great passion for cinema,” says Zahraa. I learned a lot, but especially in terms of skills related to leadership and group work. One thing is clear: we must work together to succeed. »