by Mr. Rene Karam
22 March 1997
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Congregation of “Soeurs Saints Coeurs English Department” I dedicate this international seminar to education in Lebanon, to the teaching and learning of English in this Country.
Over the last three or four years we have all sensed a paramount change taking place in the approach towards English, which has consequently led to a number of various activities: workshops, symposiums, seminars and activities taking place every now and then to meet the educational needs of the country. In the last two symposiums organized by the English Department SS.CC, we stressed a number of major issues to be dealt with. Unfortunately, due to the absence of a committee or an association of E.L.T. professionals, most of these points and resolutions were partly and chaotically implemented here and there depending on the good will of individuals and personal initiatives.
I shall list some of the main issues mentioned in the last symposium. To start with, it was suggested at the time that English programs would yield measurable results if set under the umbrella of a comprehensible educational philosophy, national policy and a clear set of objectives. Fortunately, this was addressed by the Ministry of Education when C.E.R.D. launched the new curriculum with this point was clearly stated.
The second point mentioned was that too much effort was being made at the university level in developing intensive remedial English programs; causing and delaying the start of university studies by one semester to one year and secondary schools were requested to better prepare their students for university level English. However, it would be worth mentioning here that up to now there has not been any sort of standardized tests. Each university requests an entrance exam. Some request the TOEFL, other the SAT and some others their own entrance exams. While on the other hand, some other international exams that are widely and internationally recognized and far more advanced such as the Cambridge Proficiency and Oxford Higher Test are not accepted as local university entrance requirements. We seize the opportunity to make a point since most universities are represented in the Higher Committee to remedy the situation and reach an agreement on what is or not accepted, requested, recognized and why.
Third point concerns teacher training and follow-up programs. A number of workshops have been taking place over the last three or four years. Some organized by publishers and some others by English Departments such as SS.CC, English Department. The work is valuable, but we still feel it lacks the proper coordination and educational aims to reach the desired and requested objectives.
The fourth point, long-term-serious planning for syllabi, tests and materials has been neglected in some places and the need for adequate physical facilities in less privileged schools outweighs the need for quality programs.
The fifth point is the need to associate language and culture and its framework.
Last, but not least, I would like to refer to the lecture given by Dr. Georges Nahas in last year’s symposium on the necessity of trilingualism and the proper means and references to be adapted. After reading in depth Dr. Nahas’s lecture and the bibliography he provided us with, we feel that his valuable lecture could serve as the foundation stone towards achieving trilingualism and the proper teaching of the three existing languages. I call the University of Balamand and Dr. Nahas to organize a number of meetings for the discussion and the adaptation of the theory.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A lot has been achieved as mentioned but we still have a long way to go. This definitely requires teamwork and a lot of coordination if we are to climb the ladder successfully. The need to unify our efforts is of paramount importance as the process of education cannot be a one-man show; the need for coordination between the schools and universities is a necessity. The need for true commitment to one’s career, and finally the need for overseas contacts through their representatives here ought to be more developed. In the name of all the aforementioned and on behalf of all teachers of English and coordinators who believe so, I declare the Association of Teachers of English in Lebanon. I call all people involved in ELT to join and fill in the form in their folders and I hand this Association over to the Higher Committee and the British Council.
Excellency, Reverends, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen I want to thank you for coming and to thank every member of the Higher Committee for participating and sharing the responsibility. I want to thank all the speakers, the universities, and the delegates of Local Examination-University of Oxford that I’m proud to represent. I once more want to thank the SS.CC principals and sisters for their efforts and support not only to English but to all educational matters. I want to say thank you to OUP, UK and Librairie Samir for their sponsorship. I want to thank Mr. Stephen Pringle for his valuable support and concern. Thank you.
From the International Seminar in the Middle East – North Africa – 1997″]
Congrégation des Soeurs des Saints Coeurs ” Bureau Pedagogique – English Department