“It’s really important for us to see Syrian children having a chance to be in school and learning”

Education in emergencies, Refugees and internally displaced people, Technology and education

Theirworld has been working with partners to help Syrian refugee children in Lebanon who want the opportunity to learn and fulfil their potential. Here we report back on a trip to see how that work is developing.

Last week, I was in Lebanon with Theirworld President Sarah Brown, meeting young people who are benefitting from our ongoing work to get all children into school – and some for whom school is still out of reach. 

We were travelling with colleagues from the People’s Postcode Lottery who have been closely supporting Theirworld’s work in Lebanon and the region for several years.

Sarah visited an informal tented settlement in the Bekaa Valley, where hundreds of children are living in extremely difficult conditions. Many of them sacrifice their education to work in agriculture and support their families. 

Lebanese NGO Beyond Association is supporting children in this area by providing psychosocial support, teaching children about their rights and offering basic literacy and numeracy classes, as well as homework support for children attending local schools.

Sarah met children who have spent several years out of school after fleeing the conflict in Syria. Some participate in a Press Club which teaches them to express their feelings and process their traumas through writing letters and poems about their lives. 

In September Theirworld delivered some of these letters to political and business leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. Sarah was able to report back to the children on what was achieved on their behalf in New York. 

Sarah also visited Mtein School, a double-shift primary school with more than 800 students, where Theirworld is piloting a number of interventions to explore how students can be better supported within the public school environment.

She said: “It’s really important for us to see Syrian children having a chance to be in school and learning. But more than that to be able to invest in skills that might help them in the future.” 

Theirworld is piloting a snack programme to ensure students receive a nutritious snack and carton of milk each day. 

Many students are arriving at school without having eaten for several hours before their classes.

The snack tackles this short-term hunger among students, better enabling them to concentrate in class and further motivating them to attend school, while also improving their diet by introducing fresh vegetables and dairy. 

We are also supporting the introduction of technology and digital resources into the classroom at Mtein School.

The use of technology within classrooms has multiple benefits on teaching and learning, including enhanced access to content, increased engagement among students, ability to adapt to various learning styles, peer support and collective working. 

Theirworld is piloting resources which complement the delivery of the Lebanese curriculum with interactive learning and training teachers to utilise these new technologies to enhance their lessons. 

Annemiek Hoogenboom, Director of the People’s Postcode Lottery which funds this work, said: “What we try to do as the main funder of Theirworld’s pilot programmes is find out how we can make double-shift education more effective and reach more children. We try to find out what works in one school and look at how this can be rolled out.”

I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Lebanon regularly since Theirworld started developing these initiatives in early 2015 and have seen the double-shift school system expand from supporting just over 50,000 Syrian students to enrolling almost 150,000 last school year. 

Early reports following school enrolment in October indicate that even more Syrian students will benefit from an education this year thanks to the double-shift system. 

That’s why Theirworld’s work, piloting initiatives which support these children to learn once their school place becomes available, will continue to be critical in the long term to ensure quality, accessible education for all children in Lebanon.

Theirworld has been working in Lebanon to get all Syrian refugee into school since 2013. 

Through research, advocacy and campaigning, Theirworld is working to ensure the policies, funding and programmes are in place to allow every Syrian refugee child to get an education and achieve their potential. 

This work is generously supported by the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

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