The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Funds LAU Project in Armenian Schools

The Department of Education will launch a professional development program for teachers of Western Armenian in Lebanon.

By Hanan Nasser

Archives: The Department of Education has a long-standing history of organizing professional development workshops for teachers in Lebanon and abroad.

The Department of Education at LAU’s School of Arts and Sciences (SoAS) has received a $125,000 grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal to fund an innovative research and development program targetting school teachers of Western Armenian in Lebanon.

The two-year customized program, which will be launched in October 2021, will offer theoretical and practical components to support teachers in Armenian schools to incorporate innovative skills in their teaching and to facilitate a more effective method for language acquisition.

“The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is a prestigious institution with a lofty mission that focuses on ‘building coalitions to tackle complex global problems,’” said SoAS Dean Cathia Jenainati. “Its mission aligns harmoniously with that of the Lebanese American University and the forward-looking vision of our Department of Education.”

Spearheading the project are the department’s Chairperson Rima Bahous and Associate Professor of Education Hagop Yacoubian.

“Our success in securing this particular grant reflects the foundation’s appreciation of the excellent standard of research and the dedication to civic engagement that Dr. Bahous and Dr. Yacoubian have continually demonstrated,” added Dr. Jenainati.

The department has a long-standing history of conducting professional development programs for teachers in Lebanon and the region. It also offers several courses related to language acquisition at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

“Our main objectives in this project are to upgrade the pedagogical content knowledge of the teachers using evidence-based best practices and to train them to become practitioner researchers in their own classrooms,” said Dr. Bahous.

The program offers a unique opportunity for Armenian schools through its interactive workshops, seminars, practicums and action research, noted Dr. Yacoubian.

Continuing professional development is a “necessity for any teacher,” he added. “The teaching profession assumes that teachers continuously reflect on their professional knowledge and skills and aim for professional growth.”

The need for the project stems from the fact that Western Armenian language teachers and those who teach different subjects in Western Armenian “have fewer professional development opportunities as well as minimum access to contextualized pedagogical resources,” he said.

Part of the fund will also be used for research and publication. “The teachers’ journey will be studied over the two-year period, leading to the development and publication of a manual to disseminate resources and lessons acquired from this project,” Yacoubian said.