Rafik Hariri philanthropic and developmental contributions are countless. The most remarkable being the multifaceted support to educate more than 36,000 Lebanese university students within Lebanon, and beyond.
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The University Language Programs
As a result of the civil war in Lebanon and the subsequent departure of most of the foreign and national expertise, foreign language proficiency deteriorated at schools. Students ended up being deficient in English and failed to meet the minimum score for admission to prominent universities. They were, thus, denied to join those universities though they qualified academically for admission. In an attempt to improve that situation, Rafik Hariri Foundation initiated intensive language programs to make it possible for students to overcome the language barrier, since mastery of foreign Languages is a prerequisite for university admissions. In addition the foundation launched career guidance programs and training in different fields of specialization to ensure compliance to the job market needs.
a. The Special English Training Program
In 1985 and in collaboration with AUB, the British Council, AMIDEAST, and the Lebanese American University (LAU), Rafik Hariri Foundation managed the special English Training (SET) Program. The SET at AUB was unique because the program instructors joined teacher-training sessions in Cyprus every summer. The trainers were usually American or British TEFL experts.
b. The Preparatory Year Program (Année Zero)
The Rafik Hariri Foundation initiated the "Année Zero " in the academic year 1986-87. It aimed to help students improve their proficiency in the French Language and to be able to join educational institutions in Lebanon or in France. The foundation had previously sent 2,500 students to France to reinforce their mastery of French language; a distinctive number joined French universities, whereas others continued their education in Lebanon.
The program was run in two centers, one in Beirut the other in Tripoli. They were equipped with the most advanced audiovisuals under the supervision of highly qualified instructors who were trained in France. The duration and run of the program was 10 months. Twenty sessions were devoted to intensive French language learning, whereas the remaining sessions focused on math and sciences, with emphasis on laboratory applications.
A total of 2777 students benefited from the program in France and 710 in Lebanon.Some continued their studies at universities and technical institutes in France while others joined similar institutes in Lebanon.
In 1991, having the security conditions restored in Lebanon, the program was discontinued, and the foundation priority went to providing support to students studying in Lebanon.