Quakers in the World

Quakers in the World

Brummana School, Lebanon

Brummana High School (BHS) lies 735 metres above Beirut, It was started when the Swiss missionary, Theopholus Waldermier moved there in 1873. He opened Training schools for both boys and girls.

Local Lebanese became Quakers and formed Brummana Monthly Meeting whose connection to Quakers worldwide, and particularly UK were a major resource for staff and curriculum. A beautiful Meeting House is one of the School’s buildings. Today there is a small Quaker community supporting the school, particularly through membership of the Governing Board and as trustees and staff.

Brummana High School pioneered a unique multi-faith co-educational approach in Lebanon adapting the English Quaker boarding school model. The curriculum was international and the extra-curricula and weekend activities created the bond between pupils and with staff.

The seventeen years of war from 1982 affected the school greatly. Responsibility for it was handed to a local Cultural Society, mostly Old Scholars, with representation of Quakers among them, until Quakers in Britain became directly involved again in the late 1990s, through the Quaker International Education Trust (QuIET). QuIET is an independent UK-registered charity, formed preponderantly of British and Lebanese Quakers appointed by the Europe & Middle East Section of the world Quaker body, FWCC. The Trustees appoint the Lebanese Board of Governors.

The school offers English education to children of 3 to 18 years. The majority stay at Brummana throughout their schooling. BHS teaches the Lebanese baccalaureate and the GCSE system of education which also attracts students from abroad. The syllabus is taught in Arabic and English, and French is studied. The school also provides early education to children under the age of three.
Students work in the community, and support charities through fund raising marathons and sales. Outside events, such as lectures and concerts, are open to the wider community, and the Parents and Old Scholars associations very actively support the school. A Summer School is held for 7-10 weeks annually. Its creative activities, learning, games, sports and fellowship are open to all applicants.

Although nowadays there are few Quakers on the staff, the administration and teachers actively try to promote a Quaker ethos within the school. They create a caring, tolerant mutually respectful atmosphere which parents find quite tangible.  BHS’ emphasis on the four key Quaker testimonies to Peace, Equality, Truth and Simplicity supports and encourages each to find ‘that of God’ in others.

The campus is magnificent spreading over many levels with trees and inspiring views out to sea and across the mountains.  A staff member had the vision to fill in a small ravine to make the only football and sports field in the area. Tennis courts were used for international matches, and there is a swimming pool.

Long ago the School was given a 55 hectare plot of land in the Chouf mountains, and this is now available to be developed as a resource and facility, both agricultural and ecological.

Most importantly, this Quaker educational establishment has made for very positive attitudes among its hundreds of alumni worldwide. To quote briefly statements by three of them:

Khaled Saab:
“…I would like to stress on things that lasted…. namely the Quakers’ values.
I vividly remember the weekly Sunday meetings and how, despite the differences in religions, cultures and nationalities, we all came together, to join in accepting one another and in appreciating our differences ….to cherish one another and to embrace ideals and values that allow one to develop life-long friendships.

Last but not least “I Serve” was and still is the motto that is being exercised by all the men and women who passed through BHS.”

Fayez Bizri:

“….(We) were taught the Founders' beliefs to live simply with each other, to love each other, to obtain simplicity as a way of life, to be disciplined in our daily behaviour, and to serve our friends and society…… these beliefs … have taught us to base our behaviour on action, not words, and to face problems and solve them, not hide them and fail.”

Amine Shams:
“BHS  gave me   a ‘decent life’  based  upon knowledge , discipline , respect to others  and  to myself,  and  love “.
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