The Lifetime Education Foundation
Empowering women and preparing Lebanese students for the global jobs market through STEM training
Over the previous 10 years STEM jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) grew at a rate three times faster than non-STEM jobs. In the Middle East and North Africa, which currently has a higher youth unemployment rate than any other region, there is a distinct shortage of STEM skills, with academic qualifications in engineering, computer science and IT being some of the most sought after by employers. In Lebanon, where the education system is under enormous strain from the recent influx of refugees from Syria, it is essential that students are exposed to these subjects and future career paths.
The Little Engineer is an award-winning initiative launched in 2009 to unleash the potential of young minds aged 6 to 18 in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, through custom-tailored hands-on learning activities and courses that supplement traditional learning. Alongside technical skills, students learn soft skills such as leadership, presenting, communication and time management. Following a survey of participants of TLE workshop, 57% said that the experience had influenced their choice of major at university, and 80% said that they would like to participate in a similar workshop again. To date, The Little Engineer has already reached a total of 30,000 students. In 2016, after obtaining the approval of the Ministry of Education to deploy STEM education in public schools, The Little Engineer launched its non-profit arm, The Lifetime Education Foundation.
Alfanar’s pilot investment will support The Lifetime Education Foundation in two respects. The Women’s Intrapreneurship Programme (WIP), a social franchising project designed to empower women in rural areas by building their capacities in business and technical skills so they can generate revenue for themselves and replicate the success of TLE in their community, while exposing their youth to STEM activities. Additionally, Alfanar’s investment will introduce Lebanese public school students to the world of robotics and renewable energy through 90-minute STEM-focused workshops.