We aim to foster effective learning communities by supporting existing structures.
While ‘education' refers to what is learnt, and the verb, to the imparting of knowledge, ‘to learn' entails that the subject is actively involved in the acquisition of knowledge or the ability to do something.
This understanding drives our activities at three levels. First, we believe that, unless our target beneficiaries become stakeholders in the programmes we design, their impact will be limited at best. Second, we view the acquisition of knowledge in the context of a global knowledge society, in which our beneficiaries would be actively engaged. Underlying this process, the greatest and most enduring ability to master is that of learning: we seek to promote the ability to learn.
The combination of learning and knowledge provides the opportunity to reach understanding, in particular, understanding of the need for continuous learning to engage meaningfully with our fast-evolving environments.
Understanding as a capability, however, is in itself ethically neutral, and only with wisdom can true autonomy be achieved: the capacity to make for oneself informed decisions, where ‘informed' goes beyond understanding to include consistency with a self-held ethical framework. Further, we believe that pivotal to any such ethical framework is the notion of human dignity, which permeates every aspect of our work.
Thus, we hope our beneficiaries achieve the ability to learn wisely and the desire to learn continuously, what we define as effective learning.
Through our programmes, our beneficiaries find a platform for dialoguing with the world at large and an enhanced opportunity to learn and to practise learning. They gain a greater insight into their place in today's world and their potential for tomorrow's. They can explore and adequately appropriate new and foreign data.
In this process it is crucial to maintain their confidence in their cultural identity, both to strengthen the foundations upon which they are building as to enrich the learning process in a spirit of pluralism.
Our target beneficiaries belong to a number of overlapping communities, that might be geographically defined, or culturally so, or otherwise. In our programmes we will seek to engage these communities as a whole or in their relevant segments to draw on the cohesive environment that learning communities cultivate.
As noted above, the impact of our programmes will be severely limited if our target beneficiaries are indifferent to them. Whatever our aspirations then, we humbly acknowledge that the most we can do is to foster enabling environments to the best of our abilities. We also recognise that learning opportunities extend beyond formal programmes and knowledge to encompass the full spectrum of human activity, and that our efforts may therefore only indirectly contribute to realising our vision.
'supporting existing structures'
It is our firm conviction that the most effective programmes are those that are sustainable, in other words locally existing structures can take ownership of them. This has several implications. First, we will often not be working directly with our target beneficiaries. Second, stronger local institutions benefit the communities they serve as much by strengthening them in turn as by increasing the likelihood of the target beneficiaries becoming stakeholders. It follows that the most suitable support may occasionally be capacity-building rather than programme implementation. Finally, our programmes will be designed in such a manner as to cater for their handover in due course.
Impact is a function of both quality and quantity. So far we have been addressing the former. Scale is also necessary, however, both to achieve a wide impact as to maintain a focus on quality.
Indeed, our approach to scale is to draw from our work and experience lessons we can share. For our goal to be truly meaningful the people working with the NUHA Foundation must themselves constitute an effective learning community. Of itself this will generate a greater attention to quality.
More importantly, by focusing on programmatic design and testing on the one hand, and building the capacity and networks for sharing our experience on the other hand, we envisage the NUHA Foundation as growing into an expert international NGO for the provision of medium- to long-term development solutions through education and capacity-building.
Our name epitomises our vision. It combines the acronym for ‘Nurturing Human Activity' and the transliteration for the Arabic noun meaning mind, intellect.