Five years after the outbreak of the armed conflict in Syria, there are more than 450,000 Syrian displaced children in Lebanon, between the ages of three and fourteen years old according to the UNHCR. While refugees live in Informal Tented Settlements (ITS) across the border region, efforts from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) and international NGOs are being made to ensure children receive free education.
In the heart of the Bekaa Valley, NGOs such as the Kayany Foundation, supported by the American University of Beirut (AUB), and international partners such as Reach Out to Asia, fight against the disruption of learning for the young refugees.
Access to public schools for Syrian Refugee Children is made difficult by the limited space, the differences between Lebanese and Syrian programs, the language barriers, and lack of transportation to a great number of distant settlements.
In response to those challenges, Non-Formal Education (NFE) aids in the construction of portable schools in remote areas, the empowerment of communities, and the training of Syrian teachers. By implementing a structured curriculum and child protection programs, these alternative educational opportunities also allow help to prevent certain threatening situations for those living in poor conditions: child labor, child marriage, and risk of radicalization.
The Lebanese government has consented to monitor the content of the NFE carried out in the country so that children can eventually apply for formal education in the future. The public educational infrastructure in Lebanon is currently undergoing a comprehensive expansion in order to absorb the growing influx of students. In that way, Non-Formal Education helps to pull through social exclusion and to build hope for a young generation that has suffered traumatic experiences.
However, according to the UNHCR, one out of every two Syrian refugee children still remain out of basic education in Lebanon.
© Christophe Viseux / ROTA