BEIRUT: Lebanese school dropouts wanting to resume their studies and Syrian refugees fearing falling behind have a chance to go back to school, after the Lebanese Center for Educational Research and Development launched new projects Thursday.
In collaboration with UNICEF, the center launched a new accelerated learning program and psychosocial support projects for both Lebanese and Syrian refugees.
Convening under the patronage of the Education Ministry, the pilot projects were launched in Al-Diwan restaurant in Ashrafieh. They will begin with a three-month trial period prior to implementation, according to organizers.
“The accelerated learning program is meant for Lebanese students who dropped out of school as well as Syrian refugees who can’t attend school,” Joseph Younis, the project manager, explained to The Daily Star.
The learning program focuses on teaching students primary subjects typically taught in the official Lebanese curriculum. These include Arabic, French, mathematics, sciences and social studies.
Asked about the benefits of psychosocial support, Younis said: “[It] helps support Lebanese and Syrian students who have suffered from social and psychological problems. ... We wanted to create interactive activities based on art and theater to help students voice their concerns and express the anger inside them.”
There are over 1 million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and efforts have been made by the Education Ministry and U.N. agencies, including UNHCR, UNICEF and UNESCO to ensure they have access to education, even if in an informal setting.
But the initiatives were not able to absorb all Syrian refugee children, who comprise about half the refugee population.
The absence of centers or schools in a number of areas with a refugee presence presented a challenge that was exacerbated by the large number of refugees already in Lebanese public schools. Also, the tri-lingual Lebanese curriculum was challenging for Syrian students, who are accustomed to instruction in Arabic.
The projects aim to fill gaps in the education system to help it absorb refugees and Lebanese students.
Younis emphasized that students would be provided with education wherever they are in Lebanon, either in public schools or at centers. The projects will follow the Lebanese curriculum, but will be shortened and written in simpler language.
The project is a $600 million proposal to educate more than 400,000 children in order to guarantee them a right to education.
“We don’t want students to walk away from the right track or turn to guns and drugs,” Younis said. “We wanted to provide them with this extensive program to help, especially Syrians, learn more about the Lebanese curriculum.”