UNHCR focuses on community interventions identifying out-of-school children and youth, providing counseling and awareness sessions and community-based solutions for those at risk of dropping out. It has set up 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 2017, UNHCR also started assessing MEHE schools for a rehabilitation and expansion project that will increase the capacity of approximately 24 schools during 2018, and will ensure they have are equipped to provide inclusive education also for children with disabilities. International funding covers both the rehabilitation and expansion of public schools and the community retention activities.
For the 2016-2017 school year, under RACE II, MEHE and its partners reached their goal and enrolled approximately 45,000 more refugee children in public schools than last year. Some 1,260 public schools in Lebanon accommodate Syrian children in the morning shift, and 350 schools run a second shift. UNHCR has committed to cover the enrolment fees for some 35,500 refugee children. A new programme of Foreign Language Groups providing high-quality and pedagogically-adjusted community-based classes in English and French has started in October 2017. The language classes are taught by volunteering Lebanese university students, and target 2,000 enrolled refugee children and youth in grades 4-12 to boost their language skills to be able to follow the public school curriculum and stay in school.
The Education sector partners work closely together on the annual Back to School campaign. As the Ministry of Education started providing regulated non-formal education programmes targeting out-of-school children and youth as a way of (re)integrating them in certified education, the Back to School (or Back to Learning) campaign is now continuously ongoing throughout the year. In addition to its community outreach, UNHCR uses targeted SMS and Whatsapp messages to spread information widely about available education programmes.