AUB and World War Two (1939-45) > Inter-War Years: 1918-1939 > Middle East after WWI: A drastically Changed Region in the Demise of the Ottoman Empire > Socio-Cultural changes and the Rise of Education
Science and education
"The war has brought to an end a period of history in the Near East similar to the intellectual awakening...During this period the College at Beirut has developed into a University, which has been called upon to train many of the leaders of the future. An effort has been made to show the youth the difference between selfish national agitation and useful public service...There has been an effort to help the students realize that there is no real contradiction between science and religion, but that they are different aspects of the same truth...the University has done what it could to keep faith alive."
Report of the President of the American University of Beirut for the Seventy Fourth Year, 1939-1940: P 22-23
Modern ideas: radio, cinema, airplanes and railroads
"At the end of the First World War European armies brought in a flood of modern ideas. The cinema did more than anything else to break down inherited prejudices, but newspapers, books, and magazines were influential too. In due time, the radio was developed, to become the principal means of spreading new ideas.
During the past twenty years, aeroplanes and railroads have joined together regions which used to be separated by deserts and mountains. It is now possible to go from Aleppo to Mosul in a comfortable wagon-lit or to fly from Baghdad to the Mediterranean in a few hours.
The telephone and radio have brought isolated villages into constant touch with the civilized world.The "movies" have undermined the old social traditions and flooded backward communities with modern ideas.
Dodge, B. (1958). The American University of Beirut: A brief history of the university and the lands which it serves. Beirut: Khayat's. p:54-55
"The changes were not all good ones. The big cities were full of cabarets. prostitution, gambling, narcotics and strong drink greatly increased...."
Report of the President of the American University of Beirut for the Seventy Fourth Year, 1939-1940: P 7-8
At the end of the First World War, when the French and British institutions in the city were closed, Miss Marie Kessab started the Ahliyah College. It has grown rapidly as a Lebanese institution and has done much to train girls for modern life in Beirut.
When the French Mandate was established, the French schools for girls increased in importance and rendered valuable service, making it possible for hundreds of children and young women to obtain the advantages of European culture. The French also encouraged coeducation in the professional courses of the Universite Saint-Joseph and the upper classes of the Lycee La'ique.
After the First World War the Muslim community developed its extensive philanthropies and made education available for many poor girls, who otherwise would have been illiterate. The Greek Orthodox and Maronite schools also increased their efforts to educate girls.
Dodge, B. (1958). The American University of Beirut: A brief history of the university and the lands which it serves. Beirut: Khayat's. p:59-60
In 1926 the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions founded the American Junior College for Women, which for seven years rented a building belonging to the University, at the south-east corner of the block behind the Hospital. In 1933 the College moved to its beautiful campus overlooking Ras Beirut. In 1949 it became known as the Beirut College for Women and started granting the B.A. degree. Between the years 1926 and 1951 women students were expected to attend this College for Women or some similar institution before being admitted to Junior Year of the University.
Dodge, B. (1958). The American University of Beirut: A brief history of the university and the lands which it serves. Beirut: Khayat's. p:60
Education: the elixir of national rebirth
"Rich and poor alike felt that education was the elixir of national rebirth. The governments of Iran and Egypt were developing huge state universities at Tehran and Cairo. Wealthy families from Mecca and Jiddah were beginning to send their sons to Beirut and the government of Cyprus was reorganizing its system of education along English lines. Many of the Near Eastern countries had sent hundreds of students to Europe and America so as to train them to become experts."
Report of the President of the American University of Beirut for the Seventy Fourth Year, 1939-1940: P 6
Doctors, pharmacists, dentists, nurses, chemists, secretaries, accountants, and especially teachers were urgently needed. As they looked about, the British found that the employees who made the best civil servants were Beirut graduates. From all sides came demands for men to help organize the new systems in Palestine, Transjordan, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf states. As the governments enlisted members of the University staff to fill their vacancies, it became difficult to maintain the institution on an efficient basis.