Crises are still influencing our country with their dramatic effect, leaving behind serious negative consequences that we soon get used to and adapt to, and then we try, as individuals and small groups, to overcome our bad condition, following the path of the poor phoenix, which – I think – is fed up with us, because we tired him a lot, as if I’m hearing it crying out for help: “Lebanese women and men, enough, come on, look ahead, observe your future, plan, anticipate, be united, and do not wait for the calamity and crisis to rush to do something instantaneous, shaky, weak, relying on me to help you rising you from ashes under which you buried yourself as a result of your unawareness, division and lack of vision, in addition to many other reasons…
Enough, this people, let me live in peace flying in the space of freedom, I am tired of the ashes…
Excuse us, poor bird, we’ve treated you quite unfairly… And if many people do not want to hear your cry and your distress, and they have turned a deaf ear to your suffering, to that of the homeland and its generations, and to the pain of history and the anxiety for the future,
we have heard you and realized what you are saying…
Yes, in our universities, and at this particular time, when we are still going through a crisis and even several ones, and it has affected us, as well as other institutions and more than one sector, in a very harsh way because we did not anticipate it, and since we learned a lesson with multiple titles, it answered a number of questions, most notably:
• If we, in all Lebanese universities, did not have a sense of a possible major national crisis that affected everyone, while we consider ourselves elitists, who do you think would have realized this in advance?
• What crucial historical and national role did the Lebanese universities play during those and these crises?
• Wasn’t what has happened a sufficient reason for a real and effective unity among universities?
• And yet, again from the start, don’t you, those in charge of the Lebanese universities, consider that they have a great role in times of crises?
Rather, I believe, it has more than one role in times of crises, before and after.
I believe that it is an indisputable fact that they have a fundamental and natural role, which is the sustainable pursuit of improving the educational level and helping it to keep pace with its time…
Let us not forget, and we do not deny that this level has been damaged, perhaps severely with some of its aspects, by Lebanon’s crises. The university entities have not been spared from the harm caused by these crises, and we may have taken a lesson for the time to come…
Here, it is necessary to refer to an article with two items entitled Extending a hand abroad, once to attract accreditations that are a double-edged sword, so in addition of being an added value to our Lebanese university degrees, they deprive us and Lebanon from the capacities and competencies of its holders and the possibility of investing them as human resources on the homeland, due to their migration,
And once to request material support from capable people abroad, from the members of the Lebanese community, and from international bodies and forums… Of course, they have been always generous during our crises, and we still expect a lot from them.
And yet, in the context of dealing with the education level, I must address the role of universities in foreseeing the future, and each required level falls into this category of anticipating and monitoring the future…
Yes, universities have a quite major role in shaping the future, and this role is reflected in a number of tasks required of each of our universities, even of the National Lebanese University if possible.
The main task is to bring out from universities as educational institutions with knowledge experiences, what they possess to the public in times of crises to shed light on what is happening and show the facts to people.
The question remains: Did our university carry out this? I answer no, except for traditional shy interventions that were not enough to constitute a black box gathering the various possible solutions, so that it would be used in times of crisis.
The second task was to develop strategic plans for universities with a curriculum that takes into account the service of the community in its various conditions, and anticipates what the future could be… Considering the exceptional circumstances such as wars, revolutions and crises of all kinds, which constitute the input of the system, so that universities can be the outputs within the framework of changes.
It is true that Notre Dame University (NDU), which joined the World University Club by obtaining the most prestigious institutional accreditation NECHE, assumes the responsibility to play a leading and central role in restrengthening and activating the pillar of higher education in Lebanon, and restoring it as the University of the East and more.
The role of universities resides also in supporting research and its effects, encouraging the technological development to find effectivesolutions to the possible incidents in the coming days. Universities shall ensure the necessary knowledge by providing the required information and expertise to address crises through their educational programs, and to raise awareness on dealing with crises.
We do not overlook the need to launch educational programs based on enhancing the skills required in the future work, such as analytical, critical and creative thinking, and developing everything that falls under the framework of future thinking skills, to develop new solutions to the upcoming challenges.
In addition to the foregoing, our university is called upon very urgently today, to be preoccupied with a huge concern, which is to work on forming and bringing out a political class that is more productive than consuming of power, and I am very convinced that our students, young men and women, have the ability to be the nucleus of this political class that is different from the current one, most of which elements have been no longer valid; Old, dull, absurd, expanded, ruminating positions, a lot of talking and not producing anything of value, living on the margins of history, distracted by superficiality, without caring at all to enter history through the door of the future and its construction…
Hence, I believe that one of the most important roles of universities is to push their students to fully engage in political life, because I strongly believe that leaders are made in universities and from them, they start… To achieve this goal, we are called upon, as universities, to train our students in decision-making, equip them with dialogue skills, and encourage them to undertake leadership activities on and off campus.
We are also invited to develop study programs covering a wide range of political topics including political theories, political history and international relations, in order to promote political awareness and political culture.
Yes, universities have an intellectual role that comes to the minds and makes its impact, strengthens power, even indirectly sometimes…
At a time when I believe that Lebanon’s biggest crisis is that of deep political thought for those who deal with politics from inside and outside the authority, and since I have not signed in recent years a valuable book that reflects the thought of these politicians, I long for the era of the “Lebanese Symposium”, when the strength of intellectuals was manifested, and the features of the intellectual and cultural movement in Lebanon emerged… So where do we stand today in this regard?
Briefly, we hope that in the future we will find our universities discussing the problems that are happening in our society, developing solutions, offering alternatives and recommending what needs to be done… producing strategies that boost productivity… We may launch incentive projects for our students to write documents that express their political vision in the near future that has nothing to do with their past…
Father Bechara El Khoury