On the eve of the new school year 2016/17, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education convened Lebanon’s largest partnership in support of education under the slogan (‘Ana Hader’/I Am Ready) to reaffirm its commitment to ensure free access to education for all children in Lebanon – Lebanese and non-Lebanese.
Within the framework of the Reaching All Children with Education (R.A.C.E.) Strategy, led by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, 19 donor countries and funds, 4 UN agencies (UNICEF, UNHCR, UNESCO, World Bank) and more than 60 local and international NGOs are providing financial, operational and logistical support to expand on last year’s successes to ensure children and youth from ages three to 18 are provided with free access to educational opportunities. This unprecedented partnership is one of the most extensive and ambitious ever, with the aim of providing free access to Early Childhood Education, Basic Education, Secondary Education and Vocational Education/Training.
“Our challenge this year is not only putting every child in school but also ensuring this child stays in school” said H.E. Minister Bou Saab “with ‘Ana Hader’, as government and international community, we are fully prepared to support every single child with access to education opportunities. We are also calling on the responsibility of all parents to be ready for their children’s education, on all our teachers to be committed in the classrooms and our communities to be mobilized to support the future of our children.”
The efforts of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education with its partners aim to register at least 469,000 children in formal and non-formal educational opportunities. For Non-Lebanese and refugee children this means bringing in at least 45,000 more children than last year into formal education. The Ministry, with the support of UN agencies and international donors, will cover the costs of school registration, parent’s fund fees, and the cost of schoolbooks and stationary for all students in public schools.
“Education is not a privilege or a gift; it is a right for every girl and boy.” said Ms. Tanya Chapuisat, UNICEF’s representative in Lebanon “our partners’ – donors and government – strong belief in this principle allowed us this year to expand the number of pathways through which children and youth in Lebanon can access education and learning. From formal and non-formal education to accelerated learning programmes and vocational schools; free access is provided.”
As a result of last year’s outreach within the non-Lebanese community, the two-shift schooling and the waiving of registration fees allowed more than 200,00 Syrian refugee children to enrol in public schools and non-formal education opportunities, a three-fold increase from the previous year.
This year, UNHCR is further expanding its outreach efforts to encourage children to enrol in public schools, following successful pilot programmes implemented last year. "Building on last year's achievements, we have teamed up with refugee parents, youth and volunteers to help ensure the best possible rate of school enrolment," said UNHCR's Representative in Lebanon, Mireille Girard. UNHCR is also working closely with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to encourage refugee youths to enroll in vocational education and training in areas such as accounting and nursing. "It is extremely important that we engage youths and create the right incentives for them to acquire skills that will help them develop a sense of direction and secure their future lives back home," Ms. Girard added.
Capitalizing on gains made during the last school year, MEHE and partners have given increased importance to secondary education. UNESCO is thus committed to supporting the learning of all youth in secondary schools in Lebanon through both formal education and alternative pathways to learning. “With around 61,000 Syrian refugee youth in Lebanon between the ages of 15 and 17, and with less than 3% of them enrolled in secondary education, it is imperative and very pressing to invest more efforts and resources in post-basic education, and to support Lebanese and non-Lebanese youth to access meaningful, recognized and quality learning opportunities and to gain knowledge and skills for life” said UNESCO’s Representative to Lebanon, Hamed Alhamami.
Registration is ongoing for all Lebanese and non-Lebanese children in all public schools across Lebanon, with 300 schools offering 2nd shift classes – 100 more than last year – to ensure availability of places for non-Lebanese students.
The funding for the Back to School initiative 2016/17 has been provided by:
- · The European Union,
- · The Federal Government of Germany
- · The Department for International Development / UK
- · The Government of the United States (USAID and BPRM)
- · The Government of Norway
- · The Government of Austria
- · The Government of Canada
- · The Government of Estonia
- · The Government of France
- · The Government of Italy
- · The Government of Japan
- · The Government of Kuwait
- · The Kuwait-American Foundation
- · The Government of the Netherlands
- · The Government of Saudi Arabia
- · The Government of Switzerland
- · Funding was also received through private donations from Canada, Italy, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.