Establishing Programs for Gifted Learners in Lebanon

By Manal Saleh, Ketty Sarouphim-McGill,
Submitted to Session P4995 (Teaching in and on MENA: Programs and Histories, 2017 Annual Meeting
All Middle East;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Giftedness is defined as having extraordinary ability to understand abstract concepts, learn more rapidly and in greater depth, and perform beyond the familiar and at high levels when compared with same-aged peers. Educators stipulate that educating gifted learners entails placing them in special programs tailored to their needs and in which they are afforded opportunities to thrive and fulfill their high potential.
The field of gifted education is well-established in the West and in many Arab countries, such as Jordan, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. However, in Lebanon, a small country in the Middle East, education of the gifted is yet to be recognized. Although teachers, school administrators, and parents in Lebanon perceive the need for developing programs for gifted learners, the ministry of education, which is the authority on school curricula does not mandate any provisions for gifted students. Also, the country lacks resources for establishing such services.
In this paper, a comprehensive program for developing gifted education in Lebanon is proposed. The components of the program as well as its implementation and evaluation are delineated. The first step is to develop instruments to identify gifted students, standardized and adapted to the Lebanese population. The next task is to adopt a well-established reliable model for educating gifted learners and tailor it to the Lebanese culture. Also, policies to ensure equal access for all students who qualify should be developed, regardless of religion or gender. Training teachers and ensuring the support of the ministry of education are also necessary. Prior to implementation, an awareness campaign should be initiated. The campaign will include public lectures, flyers, and ads to educate the Lebanese community on what constitutes giftedness, the characteristics of gifted learners, and how to nurture and promote giftedness. At first, the program will be implemented on a small scale in a few schools then more schools will be added each year to the pool. Evaluation of the program’s effectiveness will be effected regularly through conducting research to examine the performance of students as well as investigating the satisfaction of the different stakeholders (students, teachers, administrators, and parents) with the program.
The time is ripe to develop gifted education in Lebanon. In a country with a history of repetitive wars, it is the civic responsibility of educators to nurture the talents of its gifted citizens who represent the untapped promise for a peaceful and better future.