On August 2, 2019, SKILD Center (Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences), and Notre Dame University–Louaize (NDU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a student support office on NDU’s main campus serving NDU students with special needs as well as a SKILD-NDU center, similar to the Mansouriyeh Center, offering support for children with special needs. The NDU-SKILD MOU was signed by Mr. Samir Abi Shedid, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development and Father Pierre Najem, NDU President.
The new joint SKILD-NDU Center will be launched in September 2019 with the goals of serving the wider Keserwan community. The Center will offer support to students with learning difficulties, raise awareness on the importance of inclusion, organize capacity building workshops for educators and school administrators, and provide proper orientation for learning difficulties. It will also provide internship opportunities for NDU students majoring in education.
This MoU affirms both parties’ belief in the right of education for all, and the desire to provide students with learning difficulties the appropriate support that will enable them to reach their full potential.
The signing was attended by Mr. Ronald Farra, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of NDU, Father Boutros Azar, Secretary General of Catholic Schools, Dr. Nada Oweijane, President of CERD, Mr. Imad Achkar, Responsible for the Private School Sector at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Mrs. Hilda Khoury, Director of Counseling and Guidance at Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Mr. Maroun Saykali, NSSF, along with prominent members of the NDU community.
SKILD’s Founder and CEO, Dr. Nabil Costa, noted that this is an important step forward in SKILD’s journey towards an inclusive community: “We initially focused on providing individualized support to children with learning difficulties at the school level. Today, our students are at university and so we celebrate the opportunity to further pave the way before them towards the future they deserve. We are proud that we are taking this step in association with NDU that is a strong advocate of inclusion in Lebanon.”
NDU President, Fr. Pierre Najem, stated that NDU has always been committed to providing education for all, without discrimination: “We have a responsibility towards the young men and women who come to us… So when we talk about exceptional education, we must also provide exceptional support… We want our students to thrive regardless of their individual learning differences.”
NDU’s Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), Dr. Elie Badr, presiding over the signing as Master of Ceremonies, reflected on the work that both SKILD and NDU have done to further their common goal of helping students reach their full potential. Dr. Badr discussed how this collaboration will serve both NDU students and the broader Keserwan area, and is in line with the ethos that secured NDU’s NECHE accreditation.