Shift plan gets 88,000 Syrian refugee children into school in Lebanon

Syrian schoolchildren at their desks Photo: UNICEF Syria/2013/Kanawati

A school shift plan in Lebanon has put 88,000 Syrian refugee children back into school.

The innovative plan works by utilising Lebanon’s schools on a double-shift system. The local Lebanese children, who study in French and English in the mornings, are sharing their schools to allow Syrian refugees to learn in their native Arabic in a second afternoon shift.

The scheme provides accelerated learning programmes in public schools and community centers and works with NGOs to provide life skills training, early childhood education and non-formal education.

Some Syrian refugees also attend the morning school and the shift system is allowing many more children to be educated.

The project has been able to get off the ground thanks to aid given by 10 donor countries.

This money has allowed UNICEF and UNHCR to mobilise and work in partnership with the Lebanese government. UNICEF and UNHCR have collectively supported more than 148,000 children in partnership with the government.

The shift plan ultimately aims to provide 435,000 refugee and vulnerable children with education in Lebanon – and the successful rollout of this pilot scheme shows it can be done.

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, called on the international community to raise the $195.5million needed to fully fund the plan for one year.

He said: “The provision of education beyond borders is now not just a concept. It is coming alive in the most difficult of conflict zones, but it will take a demand from the public to persuade governments to do what is necessary to maintain support over the coming years.

“We must make sure the right of every child to go to school – in war as well as in peace – can become a reality.”