Webcast: Access to Education for Refugees in Lebanon
This ECCN webcast explored best practices in promoting equity in education among urban refugees in Beirut, Lebanon. Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has been operating in Lebanon since 2012 and currently focuses on early childhood education, formal basic education, and learning support programs. The webcast addressed current challenges in access to education for forcibly displaced populations and how JRS is addressing gaps in access to quality education for children by enhancing school enrollment and performance in Lebanese institutions or offering quality formal education in areas where access to public schools is hindered by limited capacities or distance.
Presenters also discussed the importance of rebuilding international political will for investments in education for refugees in Lebanon, programming that facilitates more student interaction between the Lebanese and Syrians, and collaboration, as well as increased access to secondary education, including vocational training opportunities.
In Lebanon, 1 in 6 people is a refugee. The panelists highlighted their experiences from the field while focusing on community-based and accelerated learning programs. A major takeaway was that the need for psychosocial support continues to be a priority, because it can reduce disruptions caused by behavioral issues in students. To address this issue, JRS provides regular training for teachers, social workers and school administrators as part of a long-term strategy. In 2013, the Lebanese government launched the Reaching All Children with Education (RACE) initiative, to improve both access to and the quality of education. Despite the 350 second-shift schools and over 221,000 refugee children registered in Lebanese schools due to RACE, 59% of school-aged refugees remain out of school. Furthermore, enrollment rates in secondary schools and vocational training programs continue to be low. This April, in Brussels, a conference of donors highlighted the gaps in ensuring access to education for Syrian refugees. Donors were held accountable for their previous commitments.
Supporting Syria and the Region: An Update
On April 24 and 25, 2018, the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference took place in Brussels. Donors and civil society representatives gathered to mobilize financial support and political will to address the humanitarian needs of Syrians displaced by conflict and work toward a peaceful solution.
Speakers at both a conference plenary session and a side event hosted by the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations office emphasized education. During the side event, the No Lost Generation campaign released its latest update, which noted that one in three Syrian children—both those internally displaced and refugees who have fled the country—are out of school.
As the conference concluded, donors pledged $4.4 billion in 2018, for both Syria and the region, and made multi-year pledges of $3.4 billion for the years 2019 and 2020. The amounts were less than hoped for. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) released a statement that expressed support for the pledges made while also encouraging greater clarity regarding how much of this support will be directed toward education.
To learn more about the conference in Brussels, read this update by Giulia McPherson, ECCN Steering Group member, who attended the conference on behalf of JRS.
Roy Gebrayel is the regional education officer for the Jesuit Refugee Service in the Middle East. Gebrayel started working with JRS in 2014 as a Peace Education teacher and school administrator in Beirut, before moving to the JRS Lebanon country office in 2015, and to the JRS Middle East regional office in 2016. He has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, a diploma in Anthropology, and a Master’s of Research in Information and Communication Sciences from the Lebanese University in Beirut.
Giulia McPherson is the director of advocacy and operations at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. She oversees JRS/USA’s policy and advocacy portfolio, with a focus on education in emergencies and protracted crises; leads a community engagement program to educate and mobilize advocates; and oversees JRS/USA’s institutional operations. Prior to joining JRS in 2015, McPherson was with CARE USA for 11 years, most recently as director of citizen advocacy. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Villanova University and a Master’s in International Development Studies from The George Washington University.
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