SIDON, Lebanon: While Syrian refugee students in many Lebanese cities are rushing to find places ahead of the start of the new school term, authorities in Sidon say they have managed to find a place for every child. The announcement follows the work of a joint committee, comprising the southern city’s school network, its Union of Aid Institutions, the Education Ministry and UNRWA, and comes after a series of meetings held at the request of Sidon MP Bahia Hariri to discuss ways of finding room for refugee students from across the border.
According to the most recent official statistics, there are around 890 students from Syria – including 100 Palestinians – currently residing in the city, its suburbs and the two Palestinian refugee camps of Ain al-Hilweh and Miyeh Miyeh.
A meeting was held in Sidon’s Serail Thursday to put the final touches on the agreement that was reached between the various parties, focusing on how best to meet the needs of the refugees and ensure that places were found across the city’s private and public schools.
According to the agreement, UNRWA will secure places for Palestinian refugees from Syria in its schools in the camps and the city. The U.N. Palestinian refugee agency will begin this operation Sep. 23.
It was decided that the Syrian refugee students would be distributed across the city’s public and private schools.
Hariri agreed to receive all first grade refugee students in Bahaeddine Hariri School. The students will be registered this coming Saturday during school hours.
Public and private schools will soon inform the committee exactly how many students each can admit, and this information will be delivered Saturday in a meeting to be held in Majdalyoun, headed by Hariri, and including representatives from UNRWA, UNICEF, UNHCR and the Education Ministry.
The Union of Aid Institutions has undertaken the mission of providing all refugee students with books from the Syrian curriculum.
The Syrian curriculum is different to the Lebanese program, with the students taught in Arabic. The process of photocopying the relevant textbooks will cost the Union around $16,000.
There are around 6,500 Syrian refugee children of primary school age across Lebanon, according to the U.N. refugee agency.
The Education Ministry has issued a circular instructing Lebanese public schools to accept refugee students.