BEIRUT—Rim Hakim, a law student, arrived in France in September to do her master’s degree. Like thousands of other Lebanese students, she benefited from a French government program called “Ma’akum” (“With You”) that helps Lebanese students complete their higher education at a time when their home country is facing its worst economic crisis ever.
“Upon arrival I received 500 Euros to help me settle down. I was exempted from paying registration and tuition fees and my cost of accommodation was reduced,” Hakim said in a Zoom interview from Paris. “It is true these are small amounts of money, but it helps a lot, especially my parents. You feel that there is someone who cares for you, a government that is backing you.”
France devised Ma’akum and other special programs to support Lebanese students enrolled in French public universities while increasing budgets for scholarships and partnership assistance between Lebanese and French establishments of higher education.
Ma’akum is “an exceptional emergency aid program … set up for the academic year 2020-2021 and specifically designed to help newly-arrived Lebanese university students in France,” said Agnes De Geoffroy, academic and scientific cooperation attaché at the French Embassy in Lebanon. “It had a budget of 3 million euros and has benefitted some 2,500 students.”