Our collaboration will go beyond the rehabilitation of buildings and will continue to work together to find solutions and respond better to our challenges". In his speech, President Khuri thanked UNESCO for its support in rebuilding lives and livelihoods in Beirut, protecting education and heritage, and rescuing symbols where much Arab thought emerged and regional history was shaped. He also commended the AUB-UNESCO collaboration that "has proven to be an excellent concoction of good will, high expertise, and committed support." "The drive for knowledge, so vibrant in this magnificent university through both war and peace, is uniquely intended towards excellence for the greater good, striving for a better world," said President Khuri.
The ADG had kicked off her mission with a meeting at the Lebanese Ministry of Education with Caretaker Minister Tarek Majzoub, after which she took part in the launching of Lebanon's 5-year plan for the education sector. "I am proud that UNESCO and its specialized International Institute for Educational Planning have collaborated so closely on the plan's development", she affirmed, commending its "ambitious vision and transformative approach". She declared that UNESCO will contribute new financial core resources to sustain its policy engagement. The conference was attended by Director General of Education Fadi Yarak, the President of the Educational Center for Research and Development George Nohra, the Deputy Special Coordinator of the United Nations in Lebanon Dr. Najat Rushdie, the Director of the UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut Costanza Farina, UNICEF Representative Yuki Muku, and the Regional Director of the Levant Department at the World Bank Saroj Kumar Jah. Minister Majzoub pointed out that the plan "provides equal opportunities for all children residing on the Lebanese territory to access quality education in the public and private sectors". "It also takes into account the marginalized and poor groups and allocates an important space for students with special needs. It is a plan that unifies the efforts of all partners and the observations that we received on the first draft of the plan from international bodies were taken into consideration. The plan has three pillars: justice in providing learning opportunities and preventing or limiting drop-outs for all Lebanese and non-Lebanese children; providing quality and flexible education; and good governance and strengthening the educational administrative system".
Saving heritage and arts
Stefania Giannini's mission also focused on culture, another pillar of Li Beirut. 640 buildings with heritage value have been damaged by the blasts, including 60 in critical condition. In this context, she visited heritage buildings saved by UNESCO, which stabilized 14 heritage buildings in the areas of Rmeil, Saifi and Medawar, with the support of Germany and UNESCO's Heritage Emergency Fund. She also conducted a tour of the Sursock national museum, which UNESCO is rehabilitating with a donation from the Government of Italy under Li Beirut. In front of the esplanade of the landmark museum, Giannini met with local artists that had taken part in the Li Beirut TERDAD festival that UNESCO organized in July 2021, to revive the city's cultural life. The artists which represent different forms of art including music, dance, theatre and cinema, raised their concerns about the cultural life in Beirut after the blasts. They also spoke about the positive impact the Li Beirut initiative had on their lives and expressed their enthusiasm to take part in a second edition of the festival.
Stefania Giannini concluded her mission by a visit to the National Museum of Beirut with Deputy Special Coordinator of the United Nations in Lebanon Dr. Najat Rushdie and Director General of Antiquities Sarkis Khoury, followed by a courtesy visit to the Lebanese Caretaker Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zeina Acar.