Gordon Brown’s funding plea as report examines how to educate Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Children in conflicts, Education funding, Gordon Brown

Cover of report published today on providing education in Lebanon

Gordon Brown will today lead a debate and call for more funding to help end the plight of millions of children caught up in the Syrian crisis.

Speaking at the Spring Meeting of the World Bank in Washington, DC, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education will reveal that one in four children now living in neighbouring Lebanon is a refugee. And almost 14million children have now been affected by the tragic events in Syria and the region. 

His call comes as a special report is published by Theirworld and A World at School, which examines how to get all refugee children in Lebanon into schools.

Pictures show children from Syria and Iraq at a “double-shift” system school in Lebanon. The school runs classes for 320 students in the morning and  for 634 Syrian and Iraqi boys and girls in the afternoon

Mr Brown – who is backing a plan for a “double-shift” education system in Lebanon – where local children are taught in the morning and refugee children later in the day – will co-host the meeting with Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Borge Brende. He will say: “The magnitude of this tragedy cannot be underestimated. For so many girls and boys, day-to-day survival is their life.

“But there is a chance for the 500,000 refugee children now living in Lebanon. The government has developed a plan. However, financial support from the international community has consistently fallen short, leaving the Lebanese government with a $163million funding gap this year.

“In four months, a new school year will start in Lebanon and we must form a delivery and financing pact to restore hope and opportunity for Syrian refugees and the Lebanese host community. If we continue to fail these children, the consequences of our inaction will haunt us for generations to come.”

The new report is titled Reaching All Children with Education in Lebanon: Opportunities for Action. It follows a field visit to Lebanon and is informed by discussions with many individuals in the government and in the international organisations and agencies working on education.

It says that without education there can be little hope for the future of the more than 2.6 million Syrian children who are out of school in Syria and in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt – or for rebuilding Syria after the conflict.

One in 10 people in Lebanon is a child from Syria – and the majority of them are not in school. They are becoming trapped in child labour, early marriage and extremism at alarming rates, making their safety and the security of Lebanon a major concern for their families, the government and national and international organisations.

Despite the immense pressure on its system, Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) is committed to providing schooling for every child. This year, close to 110,000 Syrian school-aged children will be enrolled in Lebanese public schools – up 21% on last year.


  • 400,000 Syrian school-age children between three and 18 remain out of school
  • Limited progress has been made in improving the overall quality of education, weakening the public school’s ability to retain students
  • Poor learning outcomes persist despite support to training 2500 Lebanese teachers and providing free learning materials to all students in public schools
  • Dropout rates among Syrian children were as high as 70% for the 2011-12 school year, and these rates are also increasing for Lebanese students in public schools

Forming a “delivery and financing pact” between the Lebanese government and the international community to improve delivery capacity, meet targets and ensure predictable financing could lead to educational opportunity for hundreds of thousands of children in a matter of months.

The report outlines seven opportunities to accelerate progress rapidly and in time for the upcoming 2015-16 school year. You can read the full report here.

Education is a right.  It gives freedom, hope and a future. No child should be denied it. Sign the #UpForSchool Petition, which calls on the international community to get every child into school.

More news

See all news