Reaching All Children with Education

Bolstering a school system for refugees and local communities

Location: Lebanon

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  Seven years into the crisis in Syria, Lebanon hosts 1 million registered Syrian refugees, the highest per capita number of any country.    © UNICEF/UN043570/Lister

Seven years into the crisis in Syria, Lebanon hosts 1 million registered Syrian refugees, the highest per capita number of any country.

© UNICEF/UN043570/Lister

The influx of children and families seeking refuge from the Syrian conflict has presented challenges for the Government of Lebanon, for refugee children and the school system that has sought to accommodate them.

For uprooted children, subjects are taught in French or English, a different curriculum and a new culture. Many children struggled in the aftermath of their experiences of war and the perils of their journey to Lebanon. For the public education system, new students placed additional demand on a system already under stress.

Rather than providing education in camps or informal settlements, the Government of Lebanon, with UNICEF and partners, worked to integrate refugee children into the public schools as it strengthened the system for all students. The Lebanon Ministry of Education and Higher Education launched the Reaching All Children with Education (RACE) plan in 2013. RACE has doubled student enrolment in Lebanon’s public school system compared with enrolment in 2011. During the 2017-2018 scholastic year, roughly 209,000 Lebanese and 217,000 non-Lebanese children attended public school.

The increase in students required that the system address barriers to education such as space, enrolment costs, and transportation. There were also efforts to improve the quality of education with teacher training and curriculum guidance.

The overall growth in the system was possible, in part, by an increase in the number of ‘second shift’ schools from 88 in 2013 to 349 in 2018. The system has also benefited from a strong Alternative Learning Programme accredited by the Ministry. The programme reaches out to Syrian children aged 7–17 who have missed at least two years of school and prepares them to join the formal education system, reaching 26,750 children in 2017.

For more information, please contact Amy Blomme, Program Officer, UNICEF ablomme@unicef.org