Continuing education course for teachers in Lebanon

Suomen Lähi-idän instituutti, Beirut

Ylirajaiset koulutuspolut: näkökulmia Libanonista (Transnational Educational Paths: Perspectives from Lebanon) was a continuing education course organised in collaboration between the MIGDIA research project and the Finnish Institute in the Middle East (FIME) in Beirut, Lebanon, from October 15th to October 23rd, 2022. The course was targeted especially for those working with newly arrived students. It was led by Irina Piippo and Taavi Sundell. The course examined refugee education from different perspectives, both through the international agreements and structures that shape it, as well as through its everyday practices.

Especially in the context of forced migration, a child or young person’s educational journey often becomes transnational – they attend school in multiple countries and languages before arriving, for example, in Finland. The multi-local phases and transnational dimensions of this educational path often go unnoticed in Finnish classrooms, even though these experiences and educational contexts are part of the student’s history and contribute to the foundation upon which their future educational path is built.

During the course, we delved into transnational educational paths from the perspective of Lebanon. Due to the consequences of the Syrian conflict, Lebanon hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. We familiarised ourselves with various dimensions of refugee situations and refugee education in Lebanon and related these insights to the everyday life of Finnish classrooms, the Finnish education system, and its specific characteristics. Topics covered during the course included refugees and refugee education, international actors in refugee education (e.g., UN organisations), formal and informal education for refugees, and multilingualism and its support.

We were introduced to the topic through presentations by local guest lecturers and field visits to research institutions, as well as meetings with local and international actors working in refugee education. A total of 11 professionals working with recently arrived students in Finland participated in the course.

To learn more about the experiences of teachers Eeva-Liisa Kiiskilä and Katariina Pyykkö who took part in the course in Lebanon, you can read their account (in Finnish) in the journal “Kieli, koulutus ja yhteiskunta” volume 14(2):

Kiiskilä, E., Pyykkö, K. (2023). Yhteiset lapset yli rajojen – astu kauemmaksi, näet myös lähelle. Kieli, koulutus ja yhteiskunta.14(2).