BEIRUT: Former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown plans to make an international appeal for $500 million to help Syrian children attend school in Lebanon, according to a new report.
Brown is due to make the appeal in New York at a gathering part of the United Nations General Assembly meeting. His address will be based on a report by the United Kingdom’s Overseas Development Institute, which warns 2 million Syrian children could be denied the chance to go to school.
“There are some 300,000 refugee children out of school – and that number could reach half a million over the next year,” the report says. “If Syria’s refugee children were a country, they would have the world’s lowest enrollment rate.”
Brown is expected to ask international donors to step up to prevent a generation of children from going without education.
Children are allowed free enrollment in Lebanese schools, but local institutions have been unable to keep up with the growing number of prospective students. Syrian students also face challenges once in the classroom, including language barriers and curriculum differences. Lebanese schools teach in French and English in addition to Arabic.
The international appeal calls for the Global Partnership for Education, an international aid body, to provide $150 million a year for three years to help with schooling, and for international donors to provide the other $50 million in aid.
Lebanon is coping with a massive influx of Syrian refugees due to the more than two year war next door. The U.N. is aiding over 755,000 refugees in Lebanon. Many more are unregistered.
Government estimates say there are well over 1 million Syrians in Lebanon and officials say the country has been deeply underfunded by the international community to deal with the crisis, which is putting immense strain on the country’s infrastructure.
International aid appeals to fund U.N. efforts in Lebanon have gone partly unfunded while appeals by the Lebanese government have been almost entirely ignored.
“The international response should include scaled-up support aimed at maintaining the quality of public education, while at the same time providing predictable funding for NGOs equipped to increase coverage,” the report says.