Data Visualization

Blog of the Data Visualization & Communication Course at OSB-AUB

This is my favorite part about analytics: Taking boring flat data and bringing it to life through visualization” John Tukey

From Crisis to Classroom: Visualizing the Power of External Support

From Crisis to Classroom: Visualizing the Power of External Support



War in the Arab World

Many Arab countries have been through a string of tough wars including World War 1, World War 2, the Gulf War, the Israeli War, and Franco-Syrian War, and many others. These Wars have left a brutal mark on all aspects of life in these countries, making life tough for all the people living there.

Effect of War on Education in the Arab World:

One big area that was affected badly is education. According to the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which aims to ensure that everyone gets a fair shot of education and lifelong learning opportunities. The following map tracks how many kids were going to school in the Arab countries from 1960 until today.

Analyzing this data:

Education was in short supply from the get-go in 1960. It wasn’t until 1971 that we saw a slow increase in the number of kids going to primary school in some countries. But, it’s important to note that in other places, the numbers stayed way too low. This shows that even though things got a bit better in some spots, there are still serious challenges in making sure every kid gets a good education.


This bar graph indicates a notable pattern concerning primary school enrollment. Rather than having a consistent upward pattern or stable change, the data reflects an oscillation, characterized by fluctuating values each year. It is important to note that the decrease in enrollment coincides with periods of conflict and war in the Arab world, specifically during 1982, 1984, 1990, 1995, 2006, 2010, 2015…These periods represent the war struggles that these Arab countries were witnessing. This correlation highlights the impact of war on educational accessibility.

War in Syria

Syria has a long history of war. It played a role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, participating in the Six-Day War in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Additionally, Syria was also involved in the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990 as part of the broader regional dynamics.

The most recent and prolonged war is the Syrian Civil War, which began in March 2011 and involved various internal and external factors contributing to these challenges. Due to this significant crisis, millions of Syrians were displaced internally, and others were refugees in neighboring countries and beyond.

Effect of War on Education

The war in Syria has had a bad impact on education. Many schools have been damaged, and ongoing violence has forced closures. Countless students, both internally displaced and refugees, face difficulties continuing their education. Host countries were under pressure in their educational systems because they had to deal with an unexpectedly large arrival of refugees. Students’ educational experiences were disrupted by the conflict, which had a huge impact on their current and future opportunities.

The presented line chart shows the average enrollment trends in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools over the years.

  • The pre-primary line chart indicates low enrollment, remaining below 10 students throughout the observed period, which emphasizes challenges in early education access.
  • The secondary school enrollment line exhibits moderate fluctuations, ranging between 30 and 77 students over the years suggesting the varying levels of access or interest over the years.
  • The primary school enrollment line stands out with higher average numbers, consistently surpassing 81 students and reaching a peak of 128. These high and more stable enrollment values reflect a more robust foundation in the primary education system.

The three areas witnessed notable and dramatic decreases following the Syrian Civil War highlighting the huge impact of the War on education.

Looking at just primary education tells a powerful story. Even though primary schools consistently had a lot of students, showing how important they are, the graph takes a heartbreaking turn after the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Schools were destroyed, people lost their lives, and families had to leave their homes – some inside Syria and others in different countries. The numbers on the graph don’t just represent students; they tell a story of how the war shook the very foundation of education in Syria. The sharp drop in primary school enrollment is like a reflection of the tough times people went through. It’s not just about rebuilding schools; it’s about rebuilding the support systems and hope that education brings.

Government Expenditure



This line graph illustrates the percentage of government expenditure allocated to primary education in Syria over the years. In 1972, the commitment to primary education stood at 41%, reflecting an investment in this foundational aspect of the educational system. This dedication continued to rise, reaching its maximum at 48% in 1989, indicative of a sustained prioritization of primary education during that period.

However, the subsequent years after 1989 witnessed a notable shift, marked by a huge decrease in expenditure. This decrease in government expenditure on primary education aligns with the broader challenges faced by the country during this period. Conflicts have a significant impact on financing priorities, making it difficult to continue providing the same amount of cash for education.

The Power of External Support

External support, particularly through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), plays a major role in reducing the educational challenges that people who are affected by war are facing. NGOs often step in to provide vital assistance, especially for displaced children, ensuring they have access to necessary educational resources.

In the context of the Syrian conflict, NGOs have been supporting children who have been forced to leave their homes. These organizations work tirelessly to address the educational needs of displaced children in the countries they seek refuge in.

Example: GHATA schools in Lebanon

Zooming in on Lebanon, an initiative that resembles the impact of external support is the Ghata School. This project is a collaborative effort between the American University of Beirut (AUB) Center of Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS) and Kayany Foundation.

The Ghata School exemplifies the power of partnerships between academic institutions and NGOs in providing comprehensive educational support. Through this initiative, Syrian refugees in Lebanon receive not only access to accredited education but also benefit from several digital and soft skills, vocational training, as well as health care.


This shows that due to the help of external support, out-of-school children can join schools for accredited education and improved mental and educational well-being.



Stop the Scroll: Sharpen your Attention With Pomodoro Solution

Stop the Scroll: Sharpen your Attention With Pomodoro Solution


In an era marked by a rapid exchange of information and digital connectivity, our attention spans have undergone a notable transformation. From an average of 150 seconds in 2004 to a mere 47 seconds in 2020, the ability to sustain focus has become a precious commodity. This shift carries far reaching implications, impacting not just our productivity but various facets of our lives. The ramifications of this decline are many such as decreased productivity, wasted time, disruptions to sleep, effects on mental health, and potential impacts on career opportunities.

In this blog, our focus will be directed towards concentration levels of university students in Lebanon. We will unfold the primary reason behind this decline and recommend a significant solution to address these challenges


Increase of social media users:

In a society dominated by social media and a tendency to immediately check notifications upon waking up, we’re confronted with a plethora of mental health challenges. Based on data from Statista, the percentage of social media users from total population has been gradually increasing since 2017 reaching over 4.59 billion users as of 2023, which accounts for 57% of the entire world’s population using various social media applications such as Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, and Discord. Social media penetration, which represents the percentage of social media users per population, seems to be at a high in Lebanon with a value of 89.5% in 2023. This means that the majority of the Lebanese population is using social media. Such a high penetration rate implies that social media has become a significant part of daily life for a large portion of the Lebanese population


Repercussions of social media: High distraction rate


Given the increase in the use of social media apps, and the high social media penetration in Lebanon, we surveyed 280 responses to study the effect of social media on university students in Lebanon.


The survey line chart visualization represents the answers of 3 main questions which are in respect to the number of hours spent on social media:

  • How often do you get distracted by Social media when you are busy doing something?
  • How easily distracted are you?
  • How frequently does your interest in daily activities fluctuate?

The above graph showed a positive correlation between between the amount of time students spend on social media and their likelihood of getting distracted. Those who dedicate more hours to social media tend to encounter increased levels of distraction. This heightened distraction, in turn, leads to fluctuations in their interest levels in various daily activities which includes studying.


Remedies: Pomodoro technique


The Pomodoro technique is a technique involving taking intervals of time to study and rewarding yourself at the end of these intervals (25 minutes, 50 minutes). During the 25 minutes, individuals commit to completing their tasks and maximize their concentration by silencing/ turning off notifications, closing unnecessary tabs, and creating a study-friendly environment. 

Rewards for completing a Pomodoro session come in the form of leisure time which is often spent on social media. This technique represents a form of delayed gratification that through routine makes it easier to focus on the task at hand. The technique is supported by the science of evolutionary biology which states that the human brain states in a state of alertness to avoid looming threats. Hence deactivating and reactivating the brain helps restart your body’s internal focus timer.


Pomodoro effectiveness

To prove the effectiveness of this technique, we conducted an experiment on a group of university students were we tracked the number of phone checking in 2 hours before and after using Pomodoro as well as the percentage of tasks they completed.

As we can tell by the bar graphs above , the number of times the students touched their phones without Pomodoro was significantly higher compared to using Pomodoro technique trials. Moreover, the percentage of tasks completed in 2 hours significantly increased after using Pomodoro technique in comparison to without it.

Our Solution: Pomodoro Prime App

A potential remedy for the problems caused by rising social media usage and shortening attention spans is our app’s creative features which utilizes the Pomodoro Technique. The apps features involve tabs to be chosen depending on what type of Pomodoro session a student would like to perform:

  • Create an individual focus session with customized time intervals in which you can then periodically take breaks in between
  • Join a Pomodoro session and connect with others studying with predefined time intervals that have periodic breaks in between.

In between these study sessions, there’s an option efficient break in which breaks that are commonly spent on YouTube mindlessly scrolling is now substitutable with options for stretching and meditation exercises during study sessions that will improve focus and calmness for better performance in the next sessions.