The UNICEF Representative in Lebanon, Edouard Beigbeder, issued the following statement in response to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education’s decision to open public schools on October 3rd:
“As a result of the country’s various emergencies, Lebanon is undergoing an education and learning crisis, putting the school sector under great strain.”
While we commend the efforts of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) to bring all children back to school after 3 years of disruption, we also observed an increase in the number of out of school children over the past 3 years; 16 per cent of Lebanese children and 49 per cent of Syrian refugee children are estimated to be out of basic education.
Together with MEHE, we initiated a pilot phase for a new non-formal education programme to reach out-of-school children with learning, and support children aged 8-14 who have been out of school for more than 2 years. Participating children benefit from a tailored programme based on their needs and educational level, which represents an opportunity to bring them back into formal education.
The pilot phase of this programme, initiated in February 2022, targeted 5,000 children in 19 private schools. An evaluation study is being undertaken to assess the programme outcome. The upscale phase of the programme, designed to reach 50,000 children, is put on hold until discussions with MEHE and stakeholders take place.
UNICEF’s mandate is to support children and young people to gain access to quality and inclusive education including in the formal public school system and through alternative pathways which are relevant to the individual needs of the most marginalized children, especially out of school children. Every programme being operationalized on education in Lebanon with UNICEF’s support is part of an approved Annual Work Plan with MEHE.
UNICEF will continue its long-standing support to the education sector with the international donors and partners, who collectively have provided funding and technical assistance to public formal education in Lebanon since 2011. We recall the Government of Lebanon to fulfil its obligations towards children, teachers, and schools and take immediate practical steps to ensure that every child can access quality, safe and inclusive education.
Now is the time to redouble our efforts to reach all children with quality education. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with MEHE and the Government of Lebanon to ensure a successful start to the new school year and beyond”.