Claiming the right to learn in Lebanon

Aug 29, 2023
For years, Syrian refugee families in Lebanon have struggled to secure stable education for their children. Their kids are behind in school. Years of poverty and chaos have seen to that.

“I always feel the burden of being illiterate,” says Khaled, a Syrian father in Lebanon with his five children. “I don’t want my children to end up like me.”

Yet too often, that’s in danger of happening. One-third of children in Lebanon are out of school. Most are Syrian refugees or migrants. Tragically, circumstances have forced thousands to become labourers and panhandlers.

A missed window of opportunity in their childhoods may determine the course of their lives.

Taking to the streets

The education situation in Lebanon has been worsening for years. Economic turmoil—intensified by the COVID pandemic—has dragged 75 per cent of the population into poverty.

By early 2023, thousands of teachers took to the streets in protest. They said they were unable to live on their pay. A devalued Lebanese currency meant many teachers could no longer afford rent. 

An adolescent boy stands on the street holding a large multi-pack of tissue boxes.
Since the start of the war in Syria, thousands of children entering Lebanon have struggled to claim their education right. Many have dropped out. This 2016 picture shows a boy selling tissues on the street. Photo: Jon Warren

Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF representative in Lebanon, has called the situation “a learning catastrophe.” The immediate and long-term impacts on children’s “learning, protection and future prosperity” will be “insurmountable,” he said in a statement.

Helping children rise

In Lebanon, World Vision is fighting to help children prevail with their learning—despite the immense odds. We’re assisting girls and boys in danger of dropping out. To do this, we partner with a local agency supported by the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund.

Together, we’ve provided 848 Syrian and Lebanese children with individualized learning support in major subjects: Arabic language, foreign language, mathematics and science. And we’re celebrating the difference it’s made.

"Last year, I failed at school and had to repeat my grade,” says Mohammed, 12. (His father is Khaled, whom you met earlier). “This year, I am doing much better, thanks to the sessions.”

An adolescent boy sits at a desk, writing in a notebook with a pencil.Mohammed’s family fled to Lebanon at the start of the Syrian conflict. He was just a baby. He’s grown up with compromised education and was close to leaving school to work. Photo: George Mghames

Twelve-year-old Shaymaa is also thriving in the World Vision program. While they aren’t refugees, her family battles to make ends meet. Her dad works in a bakery two hours from home, visiting once every two weeks.

“Education is very important to me,” reflects Shaymaa. “It will help me overcome life’s challenges.”

Since joining the program, Shaymaa’s grades have improved, in math and science in particular. She dreams of becoming a flight attendant so she can support her family someday.

A mother puts her arm around her adolescent daughter, holding her close.
"Teachers are very important to make children passionate for learning and succeed at school” says Shaymaa, with her mother. “That's why we are doing better.” Photo: George Mghames

Education is the right of every child. It’s enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thanks to donors around the world, girls and boys like Shaymaa and Mohammed are claiming that right.

Not only do children become stronger, healthier and more prosperous when they learn. Their families, communities and countries do, too.

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