ALAM Association Empowers Special Needs Education in Lebanon and Ensures Continuity of Education among Disadvantaged Socio-Economic Spheres
As a Swiss nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Lebanon, ALAM strives to support, among others, the country’s most marginalized communities. After financially supporting the Lebanese Institute of Auditory-Phonetic Rehabilitation (IRAP), ALAM came to the aid of two other schools for marginalized communities in Lebanon: Themarouna Special Needs School in Hammana and Merhebi International School in Akkar. The first one serves children with special needs including dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and other developmental and cognitive difficulties, whereas the second welcomes children from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds. Ultimately, ALAM aims to empower these children to reach their fullest potential.
The particular case of Themarouna Special Needs School - Hammana
Founded two decades ago by four visionary mothers who were studying psychology, Themarouna School emerged in response to a pressing need for specialized education for students with learning difficulties.
These passionate mothers, armed with their knowledge and experience in psychology, embarked on a mission to establish a school that would cater to the unique needs of these students.
Today, the school’s impact extends far beyond its humble beginnings. From just two students, Themarouna has grown significantly, accommodating almost a hundred students at present. Its reputation for specialized education has spread, attracting families from diverse geographic regions in Lebanon, expanding from Shweyfet to Ras el Matn. By serving as a valuable resource for families seeking appropriate educational options for their children, Themarouna School fills a crucial gap in the region, especially when the public educational system in Lebanon sorely lacks such institutions.
The school’s dedicated staff members receive special training in psychomotricity, mental health, physical health, and speech therapy. This holistic approach ensures that students receive the necessary support to enhance their overall development and unlock their true potential. Themarouna has graduated many students who have gone on to become doctors and engineers. For those not having aspirations or aptitude for high-level diplomas, the school provides guidance and support to help them explore alternative career paths, ensuring that every student is empowered to build a successful future.
In recent years, owing to the financial and economical crisis of exceptional scope that has hit Lebanon, Themarouna school started encountering serious financial constraints. It had to put up with exorbitant energy bills in parallel to the extensive depreciation of the Lebanese Lira. Making matters worse was the unavailability of alternative solutions for children with special needs, driving the school to prioritize keeping all its students over increasing its fees and risking several dropouts. Teachers’ wages started to weigh more and more on the school finances and the need for external financial assistance became urgent.
The case of Merhebi International School - Akkar
Located in one of the poorest cities in Lebanon on the border with Syria, Merhebi school welcomes a majority of students coming from disadvantaged socio-economic spheres. With the hyperinflation hitting hard, it was inconceivable to augment school fees in order to cover the school’s financial deficit. Even the completely devalued fees were hard to pay by most of the families who saw their financial situation degrade very quickly. The school started looking then for external sources of revenues that would help in paying teachers’ salaries and keep the school operating despite the crisis. Some of the ideas included organizing extra curricular activities and renting out some facilities like the theater and the sports fields. However, being located in a poor city, the school couldn’t hope for much, and the financial gap couldn’t be filled.
Themarouna and Merhebi schools’ exemplary commitment to suitable education for children having learning difficulties or coming from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds aligns with ALAM’s mission to provide opportunities for all. Recognizing the financial challenges faced by the two schools, ALAM partnered with nafda Lebanon, a social movement in the education sector, to ensure the sustainability and growth of both institutions.
ALAM Association remains at the forefront of initiatives to support specialized education for children with special needs in Lebanon. By supporting the efforts of Themarouna School, ALAM aims to create a nurturing and empowering educational environment for these students. By financially rescuing Merhebi school as well, ALAM ensures continuity of education for all children in Lebanon, disregarding their socio-economic backgrounds.
Through continued collaboration and strategic interventions, ALAM Association is committed to making a lasting impact on the lives of these students, enabling them to overcome educational and financial barriers and achieve their dreams.