Around 50 teachers took part in the Training of Trainers at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Beirut, Lebanon, at the end of March. The three-day course gathered teachers from most of the key institutions of vocational training in Lebanon in order to explain the new teaching material added to the curriculum and to hand over the course handbook, which serves as a guide to what the teachers should teach. The Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC) held the workshop in the frame of the Global Solar Water Heating Market Transformation and Strengthening Initiative, GSWH, which will run out at the end of April 2014. “We included solar thermal lessons in the official curriculum issued by the Lebanese Directorate of Vocational Training (LDEC) at all three levels of vocational training,” Elie Abou Jaoudeh, responsible for the GSWH project at the LCEC, said.
According to the LCEC, vocational training in Lebanon is normally divided into three parts.
- Baccalaureate Technique (BT): At this level, graduates are considered to be skilled workers who can operate machinery, install HVAC systems and/or electrical wiring.
- Technicien Superieur (TS): Students at this level will become increasingly aware of some design aspects of their previous studies and they are considered to be highly skilled workers, supervisors and/or foremen.
- Licence Technique (LT): Students are exposed to in-depth information about designing systems and understanding how they work. They have also taken courses in general and technical studies. At this level, students are expected to fully understand technical drawings and calculations and be able to design smaller systems themselves.
Including solar thermal in all three levels
The solar water heating courses should be included in the official curricula of all three levels. For example, a BT level course focuses more on the installation aspects of SWH technology and what the installer should be aware of when setting up the collectors, electrical wiring, piping, etc. “The TS schools have already had solar thermal technology lessons. We are now working towards including it in the two other levels, BT and LT,” Abou Jaoudeh says.
“The LCEC and/or UNDP will follow this matter closely and will be available to ensure its complete inclusion in the educational system soon.” In preparation for the training, the LDEC held several meetings and consultations to develop the solar thermal handbook with the help of various stakeholders – for example, a joint workshop between Lebanese solar companies and teachers from technical schools.
Certification scheme for SWH installers
The Center for Energy Conservation engaged Indian consultant Dwipen Boruah to draw up the curriculum and to carry out the training in English. Abou Jaoudeh acted as the interpreter for the Arabic- and French-speaking audience during these training sessions, interpreting directly after one of Boruah’s explanations in order to invite questions, comments and a discussion of the material.
After a successful incorporation of the solar thermal lessons in the official curricula, LCEC plans to create a certification scheme for SWH installers. The scheme would be divided into two types of certification and should be open to all plumbers and installers. The first type will be the Installer Certificate, which would include basic installation principles and is aimed at uneducated workers, who are usually responsible for putting together the different parts of the systems. The second certification is thought to include all courses of the new curricula, as well as additional sessions necessary for good SWH installations, such as plumbing lessons. This certification aims at creating a workforce which will be able to supervise, understand and manage SWH installation sites. The body to issue these certificates has not been chosen yet, but negotiations are currently underway.