The past three years proved to be an exceptionally difficult year for Lebanon, severely impacting the education of children. In addition to overstretching of the public education system caused by the protracted nature of the Syria crisis, the deteriorating economic situation coupled with the financial collapse and the political instability and the COVID-19 outbreak have taken a heavy toll on learning. At the individual learner’s level, families heavily impacted by the economic crisis and increasing poverty in Lebanon are increasingly unable to afford spiraling transportation costs or school supplies and hence are unable to enroll their children to schools or have many children drop out of school. Refugee children face additional barriers to their education including limited spaces in public schools, lack of civil documentation and limited pathways to transition to formal education. Teachers are also experiencing the impact of the economic crisis, have frequently gone on strike due to their wages and are highly demotivated in their profession. Public schools across the country are increasingly unable to afford running costs to keep schools open; including the costs of fuel, teaching materials etc. and are unable to sustainably open.
The strikes and schools closures caused severe effects on the quality of education provided and also slowed down the planned activities and reforms, such as early childhood education, addressing learning outcomes, new curriculum, rehabilitation works to improve efficiency, national scale-up of teachers’ performance standards, etc. This has resulted in growing learning gaps and the deprioritisation of education. While there isn’t national evidence on the extent of learning losses in Lebanon as a result of nearly three school years of education disruption, regional evidence details substantial losses in math and reading skills proportional to the length of school closures. Many families who relied on daily wages have lost their jobs and rely on irregular incomes or send children to work to supplement meagre pay, putting children and their families in extremely stressful conditions.
UNHCR focuses on community interventions that aim to ensure continuity for learning for refugee children. This is possible through identifying out-of-school children and youth, providing counseling and awareness sessions and community-based solutions for those at risk of dropping out. It is also made possible through the provision of retention support activities such as homework groups led by community volunteers, increased parental engagement through parent community groups, and assigned community volunteers to second shift schools to prevent violence and refer child protection cases and children at risk of dropping out to specialized agencies/ services, aiming at increased school retention.
In 2022, UNHCR has supported refugee children in different ways, including:
Support to Out-Of-School Children and Youth: UNHCR is addressing the challenges of out-of-school refugee children, youth without prior learning, and school drop-outs through multiple means, including a standardized Basic Literacy and Numeracy Programme. In 2022, the programme supported 2,411 out-of-school children and 232 youth with foundational skills in literacy and numeracy.
Retention Support and Safe Learning Programmes: UNHCR supports refugee children’s access to safer learning environments and enhances community-based educational support that improves retention in formal and non-formal education programmes. In collaboration with partners, UNHCR created a safe learning environment for 6,393 refugee children and youth to learn and benefit from retention programs, including homework support and other catchup classes for children at primary and lower secondary age and targeted retention support including exams preparation. The latter supports refugee children and youth to recover learning losses and acquire numeracy, literacy, and life skills to either transition back to formal education or enter the labor market. In addition, UNHCR supported 366 Education Community Liaisons (ECL) in 331 schools. The ECLs follow-up on refugee absenteeism in formal education, help mediate between children, parents and school management, and identify violence, bullying, and those with learning difficulties. All child protection incidents are referred via MEHE Child Protection National Policy Pathways for follow-up inside schools and to CP case management agencies for follow-up at the community level.
Awareness-raising, Capacity-building and Advocacy: UNHCR builds on the knowledge, skills, and capacities of refugee communities for children to learn through community-based education programs. In 2022, UNHCR supported 26 specialized Education Refugee Outreach Volunteers to raise awareness on the importance of education, including distance learning. The volunteers also referred out-of-school children to education programmes available in their respective locations. UNHCR reached 85,771 refugee parents and children with awareness-raising sessions on the importance of certified formal education, COVID, distance learning, and cyber security safety among other topics.
UNHCR through its expert partner continued to run accredited vocational training sessions under the Youth Education Program (YEP). During 2022, 311 out-of-learning refugee and host community youth were enrolled in 18 short vocational courses. The trainings were in electricity, Heating Ventilation, and AC maintenance (HVAC), Childcare, Caregiving for elderly and sick people, Plumbing, Hospitality, Carpentry, Sewing, and an advanced training on the installation of solar panels, which was developed in 2022 and certified by the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC) – the national energy agency for Lebanon working under the Ministry of Energy and in partnership with Liban Cables as an industry expert.
UNHCR continued to support 83 students (27 Male and 56 Female) to access and enroll in the Lebanese Public University (LU) through the DAFI scholarships programme. 28 graduated with an undergraduate degree. Twenty-nine new students were selected to join the program starting October 2022 at the Lebanese International University (LIU). In 2022, 26 refugee students departed under Complementary Pathways opportunities with the Bourse Elysee to France, the JISR/JICA to Japan, and the WUSC/SRP to Canada.
UNHCR organized a 5-day workshop in November on Instructional Design for e-Learning (IDEL-Leb) for building the capacities of 50 faculty members from different Higher Education Institutions in Lebanon, on blended learning in higher education. The capacity building workshop was developed based on UNHCR expertise in Higher Education in Emergencies in collaboration with the Universities Association of Lebanon (UAOLB), the Directorate General of Higher Education at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (DGHE), the United Nations Education and Culture Organization (UNESCO), and the Connected Learning in Crisis Consortium (CLCC). The workshop led to the creation of a ministerial commission to develop a framework on Digital Learning Pedagogy and is contributing to the acceleration of endorsement of the Ministerial 5 year plan on Higher Education with an inclusive approach, focusing more on students profiles.
Read our latest Education Fact Sheet in English.