REACHING ALL CHILDREN WITH EDUCATION - LEBANON
The Syrian crisis started in 2011 and as a result, Syrian refugees fled to Lebanon, seeking for shelter and secure stability. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE), committed to set a roadmap and to doing more to meet the acute and immediate education needs of refugees and Lebanese vulnerable children.
MEHE with the International Community developed an expanded and well-coordinated three-year Program (2014-2016) for response to the crisis Reaching All Children with Education (RACE I). The overall objective is to ensure that vulnerable school-aged children and adolescents are able to access quality formal and non-formal learning opportunities in safe and protective environments. More specifically, the Program aims at ensuring equitable access to educational opportunities, improving the quality of teaching and learning, and strengthening national education systems, policies and monitoring.
An Executive Committee was established to assure coordination between all partners, and a Program Management Unit (PMU) was recognised to provide additional expertise in program implementation, oversight and monitoring.
Substantial investments into the Lebanese education sector via RACE I has had noteworthy outcomes for children, both vulnerable Lebanese and non-Lebanese alike. Two significant successes stand out; first, that enrolment rates of Lebanese children into public school returned to pre-Crisis levels. Secondly, over 42% of (compulsory school-age) refugee children received a certified education despite significant documentation barriers.
The RACE II Strategy (2017-2021) seeks to build on RACE I, envisaging now a more strategic approach to the education sector response, on the premise of a stabilization and development agenda through these key strategic shifts:
- Aligning with the SDGs’ Goal 4 on Education, RACE II will seek to integrate human right, child rights, and child protection principles, as key to its interventions
- Ensuring that quality education opportunities are available for the most vulnerable children and families; whether they be non-Lebanese or Lebanese.
- MEHE and its partners will implement systemic and holistic interventions that address both the demand for, and the availability of, quality public education services.
- An acceleration towards ensuring that all children and youth aged 03-18 years are enrolled in quality and inclusive education opportunities. This explicitly expands the Sector’s responsibility to support education opportunities for all throughout their life-cycle; from early childhood education, to improving quality of teaching services for primary, secondary, and vocational education, and a focus on equipping children and youth with effective life-skills.
With an overarching vision for children and youth therefore, RACE II aims to contribute to furthering the equitable right to a quality and relevant education for all children and youth between 03-18 years of age in Lebanon, by addressing policy, systems, quality service-delivery and demand bottlenecks at the national, subnational and community levels. Based on mutual trust and respect, a financing and delivery compact will greatly increase the delivery of quality education services for children, and a transparent accounting of monies invested towards their future.
The number of displaced Syrians currently residing in Lebanon according to UNHCR’s latest data registered is 1,011,366, whereas, the Government of Lebanon estimates that the number of Syrians in Lebanon exceeds 1,500,000, due to the fact that UNHCR’s registration data is not capturing all Syrians residing in Lebanon. For example, UNHCR has registered a total of 10,486 school age non-Lebanese residents in Beirut, a total of 15,796 is currently enrolled in public schools (151% enrolment).
According to UNHCR, the registered non-Lebanese children aged 3 to 18 years old residing in Lebanon are 488,832, out of which ~483,000 are Syrians (98.7% of the non-Lebanese age population in Lebanon is Syrian).
MEHE has accommodated a total of 202,259 Non-Lebanese in its public schools, and at total of around 40,000 in the private and subsidised schools; this makes the total of enrolled students in Formal Education around ~50% .
MEHE had opened 313 public schools for the school year 2016/2017 to operate in the afternoon as second shift schools due to the increase of Non Lebanese school age fleeing because of the Syria crisis. These second shift schools accommodate 65% of the enrolled students in public schools.
RACE II’s Strategic Components:
• Improving and scaling up access to education opportunities for all children (3 – 18 years) affected by the Syria Crisis (Lebanese and Non-Lebanese) (focus on the most vulnerable children)
• Construction, expansion, rehabilitation and equipment of schools
• Expanding access to education opportunities for the most vulnerable out of school children through quality and regulated Non-Formal Education under the NFE framework
• Improving the quality and inclusiveness of the teaching and learning environment (curriculum reform)
• Strengthening national education systems, policy, planning, financing and monitoring capacity
RACE II ‘s focus for the coming period will be on:
• Longer-term financed response plan for the education sector
• Funding to be channelled through RACE
• Need for predictable, stable, long-term/multi-year and flexible funding