DUBAI: A French shipping expert has launched an initiative to offer Lebanese students at the American University of Beirut and Saint Joseph University 240 scholarships over a three-year period.
The CMA CGM Excellence Fund for Lebanon is the largest HEC Paris scholarship program for students outside France, which is a continuation of the 10-year partnership signed in 2021 to support annually 20 Lebanese students wishing to continue their studies at HEC Paris. The CMA CGM Group, world leader in maritime transport and logistics, HEC Paris and the HEC Foundation have launched this initiative to expand access for Lebanese students to one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.
In partnership with AUB and USJ, the Excellence Fund for Lebanon supports students from the best Lebanese universities and demonstrates the group’s commitment to fostering cooperation between France and Lebanon.
The ongoing economic and financial crisis in Lebanon has taken its toll on the education sector. Known to be one of the pillars of the Lebanese economy, academic institutions are struggling today to operate, and students to finance their studies.
AUB, a 156-year-old institution and one of the oldest in the region, has provided scholarships and financial aid for years and continues to equip the regional and international markets with skilled graduates.
“The scholarship initiative is an agreement to help students, rooted in a partnership between AUB and the CMA CGM Group, aimed at having a greater impact,” commented Dr. Imad Baalbaki, senior vice president for advancement and business development at AUB.
The AUB/CMA CGM partnership is part of a mission to provide a premier academic experience and healthcare services to the community in the persistent absence of government intervention.
“Of note is the most recent support from CMA CGM to AUB’s December 2022 Cancer Support Fund fundraiser in partnership with MTV through a telethon. The CMA CGM Group pledged $100,000 toward the cancer drive in support of patients undergoing cancer treatment at the AUB Medical Center,” added Baalbaki.
USJ, another leading university in the country, also continues to mobilize efforts to empower its students. The Excellence Fund for Lebanon will ensure the future of several students in the fields of economics, applied mathematics, engineering and business.
Scholarships are awarded based on the social situation and the academic merit of the candidate.
“Our objective at USJ is to have a high employment rate. Based on the latest audited results, 88 percent of master’s degree graduates get a job in less than six months compared to 78 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates. We want to give hope to students and help them build a career,” said Dr. Fouad Zmokhol, dean of business and management at USJ, in response to questions from Arab News en Franҫais.
“We are signing MOUs with prominent companies, to ensure training and employment. Working with the industry is at the core of our business strategy,” added Dr. Zmokhol.
The CMA CGM initiative is a beam of light for students and their families, particularly during this holiday season. In a country with looming uncertainty, the fund aims to support the higher education sector, providing reassurance despite pressing economic and political concerns, beginning with the country’s failure to elect a president after nine electoral sessions.
The normalized stalling will continue to take its toll on the sector, with public academic institutions at a higher risk of experiencing poor internet connectivity and decaying infrastructure. The deteriorating situation made headlines last month with the death of a 16-year-old after a ceiling collapsed in a school in Tripoli, northern Lebanon.
The country is in a deadlock impacting all sectors, and in the absence of concrete measures to counter the impact of the growing precariousness, Lebanese people can only rely on the collective efforts of the private sector and a significant alumni network to help existing students complete their studies.
Zmokhol underlined the importance of accompanying students in these challenging times and the responsibility of the education sector in terms of coaching. “We have a generation that has faced three of the most dramatic crises in human history: from an economic to a social crisis, followed by the Beirut port explosion, which destroyed not only homes, but also hopes, and aspirations. The same generation has been confined for more than two years, facing a pandemic,” he said.
“Staying true to our Lebanese roots and to our commitment to education, we have decided to take action by giving Lebanese students an opportunity to benefit from first-class international education,” commented Rodolphe Saadé, chairman and CEO of the CMA CGM Group.
The CMA CGM Excellence Fund for Lebanon enables successful applicants to pursue their studies at HEC Paris for a chance to work for international groups upon graduation. This is an opportunity to train the next generation of professionals before returning to their home country, in what is the group’s commitment to participate in the development of Lebanon and “champion social mobility outside France,” according to Eloïc Peyrache, dean and general director at HEC Paris.
“We are proud to have one of the biggest European companies in Lebanon. We count on this partnership to serve as an example for other companies,” added Zmokhol.
CMA CMG, leader in maritime transport, logistics and air freight, present in 160 countries, works on preventing the immigration of Lebanese youth. The group created 1,100 job opportunities in the country in 2022 and will count more than 2,000 employees at the beginning of 2023.
The group offers a range of services covering import and export operations, innovative products, and a set of complementary solutions to its core business around maritime transport and logistics services.
It also offers a range of value-added services to increase efficiency and optimize the supply chain, as well as services to protect and secure cargo and reduce carbon emissions associated with shipments, which is part of the group’s sustainability efforts.
*This story first appeared on Arab News en français