UK government asked to back school plan for Syrian refugees in Lebanon


Syrian refugees at a camp in Central Bekaa Valey, Lebanon

Picture: Pekka Tiainen, EU/ECHO

Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, has asked the UK government to back an emergency plan to get 435,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon into school.

The shift school plan, which can get the children back into classrooms within weeks, was formulated eight months ago.

More than 50 organisations, advocacy groups and international institutions have endorsed a statement calling for full funding of education for all Syrian children affected by conflict, including the full support of the plan to deliver education in Lebanon.

But the plan has so far not been implemented and Brown raised the issue in a House of Commons debate on February 13.

Former British prime minister said: “It was through the creation of the Red Cross and later Medicine San Frontieres that the right to health care, even in conflict, has become the norm over a century.

“By fighting for the fundamental right to education for the children of Syria we can establish the principle that even in the most hopeless of situations learning can continue.”

The simplicity of the British-driven plan means it can be rolled out quickly. Instead of having to build new camp schools for refugees, exiled Syrian children will use existing Lebanese schools on a two-shift system, offering education to refugee boys and girls outside normal school hours.

The Lebanese Government and NGOs are already providing an education to thousands of refugee children but due to a lack of funding are unable to reach the hundreds of thousands who still need help

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and children’s education campaigner Malala Yousafzai both support the plan. Ban Ki-moon said: “Children are the innocent victims of conflict and this plan to quickly get refugee children from Syria into school in Lebanon is both welcome and essential.”

Lebanon hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees and resources are stretched to the limit.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Asmi Mikat said: “I take this opportunity to reiterate our support for the initiative which represents an important step to ensuring that a generation of children does not miss out on education.”