Leading Change In Spite of Immense Obstacles – Sabah Mjaess, Lebanon

It almost goes without saying that creating change within a school environment is a challenge. Every teacher and school leader is faced with unique obstacles. For Sabah Mjaess, Principal at Dhour Shweir Public School in Lebanon, the hurdles are in fact monumental.

Whether we’re talking about the lack of infrastructure (such as the availability of Internet access), or the influx of Iraqi and Syrian refugees into the country – all against the backdrop of severe budgetary restrictions and instability throughout the region as whole – Mjaess and her team have much to overcome on their road to teaching their students digital literacy.

Even so, Mjaess has not only persevered, she has created a school environment that is leading the charge and has been recognized as a Microsoft Pathfinder School (2012), Mentor School (2014) and most recently as a Showcase School (2015).

“Impulsive change in education does not last,” says Mjaess. “And so we recognize that positive change can only come with perseverance, commitment and hard work.”

I was honored to sit down with Mjaess at the Microsoft Global Forum in Dubai, where she shared with me – in sobering and honest terms – just how daunting the work of a school leader in a war-torn region can be.

We talk in-depth about how to instill the will to change, even when teachers and policy makers might not be ready for it, and about the technology literacy gap – where students are comfortable with technology, but parents and teachers may not be.

“The parents wouldn’t accept that the students study using these tools,” says Mjaess. “They think it is for fun, for chatting, for Facebook.” How do parents help keep their students safe online, if they don’t understand how to use technology?

Today’s Daily Edventure truly showcases what our heroes in education are up against on a daily basis – and why people like Sabah Mjaess must be celebrated and recognized.

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