Lebanese American University (LAU)
The Lebanese American University (LAU) signed a partnership deal to be the sole university establishment at KidzMondo, an innovative project that gives children a glimpse into their professional future and demonstrates
the significant role higher education can play in their lives.
The visionaries behind the venture, Hind Berri and Ali Kazma are both LAU alumni, as is Mark Harb, the project's sponsorship, sales and business development officer. The Alumni Relations office, which is continuously cultivating connections between the university and its graduate community, has been involved in the project since its inception. "In fact, a majority of KidzMondo employees and volunteers are alumni," says Abdallah Al-Khal, Alumni Relations executive director.
During the signature ceremony that took place on the Beirut campus, Kazma presented LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra with a memento of their alliance. "We are proud to have our university that made us what we are today be the educational role model of the project," enthused Kazma.
More than just a theme park, the project represents a full-blown city scaled down to the size of a kid's world. With more than 50 establishments - that feature everything from a hospital, to an archeological site or a flower shop - the project is designed for children between 2 and 14 years to play adult roles in a highly realistic environment.
"This collaboration is an extension of our mission to nurture the leaders of tomorrow by illustrating how a university education is crucial in choosing a career that will allow them to excel," said Dr. Jabbra.
LAU at KidzMondo is a mini campus that will engage young minds and turn children into budding scholars, professionals and citizens. After completing a test, the children receive a B.A., M.B.A. or Ph.D. that allows them to earn more when they work in different jobs. The venture calls itself edutainment-education plus entertainment- and is the first of its kind in Lebanon.
"Psychomotor development, which is an essential element of edutainment, a new education strategy in entertainment, is a mainstay of the project," clarified Kazma.
A taskforce was created spearheaded by Dr. Elie Badr, assistant to the president and strategic officer for External Projects, to set up and design the premises. It was composed of representatives from the School of Architecture and Design (SArD), MarCom, the Alumni Relations office and the Department of Education.
A mini curriculum was developed to introduce the future students to the importance of education in forging their future careers. "We introduced a curriculum, in which "degrees" are offered in audio visual, humanities and financial management," explained Dr. Rima Bahous, chairperson of the Department of Education who developed the academic component of the project.
Transforming the allocated space into a real life university was a challenge that LAU rose to. "It was a real test to be able to reflect the university on such a small scale without it being folklore like," pointed out Maroun Daccache, associate professor at SArD, who developed the architectural plans for the LAU mini campus at Kidzmondo. "We wanted to be contemporary to attract the children." Through its mission of being a university without borders, this is a task that LAU is well versed in.