Great news! 220,000 Syrian refugee children registered in Lebanese schools

Children in conflicts, Education funding, Education in emergencies

Syrian refugee children at a school in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon Picture: Claire Wilkinson/A World at School

More than 200,000 Syrian refugee children will be registered for classes in Lebanon – thanks to the amazing support of education advocates.

The Lebanese government had committed to providing schooling for 200,000 Syrian refugees this academic year through an innovative double-shift system.

When it looked as if a lack of donor funding would mean that target falling short by tens of thousands, pressure was applied from governments, NGOs, United Nations agencies, teachers, parents and A World at School supporters.

Ben Hewitt, A World at School Campaigns and Communications Director, said today: “We’ve just heard the good news that not only will 200,000 children be in school this year – with your support 220,000 Syrian child refugees will now be registered in school this term in Lebanon.  

“That’s double the number of children back in school compared to last year.”

Theirworld – the parent charity of A World at School – has also been developing projects to help Syrian children back into education in Lebanon. That work has been supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery and A World at School’s #UpForSchool campaign – which demands that world leaders provide education for every child – has been backed by more than 10 million supporters

The news that additional places are now guaranteed is a massive boost to thousands of Syrian children – many of whom have been out of school for four years.

Mayass, 12, knows what it’s like to return to lessons after a long gap. She started school in September and said: “On the first day back I felt that my life had become beautiful. I was so happy that I would learn and study and fulfil my dream.”

Myass is back at school in Lebanon Picture: Tabitha Ross

The news was hailed by Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, who said: “This shows that real progress is being made in getting Syrian refugee children into schools in neighbouring countries.

“But this is just the start. If we can provide education for 220,000 children, there is no reason why we cannot get every one of the more than one million Syrian refugee children into school.”

Join the campaign to get one million Syrian children into school.

Tom Fletcher, former British Ambassador to Lebanon and now Director of Global Strategy for the Global Business Coalition for Education, said: “Amid the unrelenting misery of the Syrian people, this is inspiring news.

“It reflects a strong and united effort by donors, in support of courageous Lebanese leadership. A year ago many thought the 200,000 target unrealistic. Instead it should show the world, and most importantly those we have not yet reached, that hope is coming.”

World leaders will be meeting again in London in a few weeks at a pledging conference to discuss funding for those affected by the Syrian crisis.

There is a plan of action to get those one million Syrian children into school in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Three detailed reports – one for each country – were published in September which warned that a lack of donor funding is leaving vulnerable children out of classrooms and at risk of child labour, early marriage, exploitation and extremism.

The three reports and an executive summary – produced by the charity Theirworld in conjunction with A World at School and GBC-Education – were written after consultation with the governments of Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

New figures released by the United Nations this week show there is now a $638 million gap in the money needed to provide education for these one million children.

Syrian refugee students in a classroom in Saida, Lebanon Picture: Tabitha Ross

Theirworld President Sarah Brown went to Lebanon recently to see the work the charity is doing, including:

  • Supporting children back into education through the double-shift system
  • Helping children in school through pilot projects providing milk and nutritious snacks so that children can concentrate and learn
  • Introducing better technology to the classrooms and training teachers to use it

Despite the latest boost, many other challenges lie ahead for Syrian refugee children both in and out of school in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Those who are back at school still need support with getting there each day and having school supplies and the proper nutrition needed to be able to study.

Another 200,000 Syrian refugee children are still out of school in Lebanon alone. One in four children living there is a refugee.

Plans are underway to help these children gain access to non-formal education so they can catch up on missed years and enter into school. An additional $30 million could help another 100,000 children enter these programmes.

In Turkey there are 400,000 Syrian children not in school, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. Last year the Turkish government granted Syrian children access to public schools – but HRW found that many obstacles remain including the language barrier and economic hardship.

The Syrian refugee crisis highlights the urgent need for a system to provide funding for education in emergencies, such as conflicts and natural disasters. Providing safe schools and education in emergencies is not treated as a priority compared to water, shelter and medicine. Last year less than 2% of humanitarian aid went to education.

Keeping children in school gives them a safe and secure environment where they can deal with trauma. It also prevents them from becoming victims of child labour, child marriage, trafficking and radicalisation.

A World at School has been calling for a new platform and fund to ensure money is directed towards providing schooling in emergencies.

At the UN General Assembly in September, Tony Lake of UNICEF, Julia Gillard of the Global Partnership for Education and Gordon Brown, committed to shepherding a global process to lead to decisions on new ways of funding education in emergencies before the end of the year.

Read about the struggles and successes of Syrian students in Lebanon

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