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Ministry of Education and Higher Education Convenes Largest Partnership in support of Education for All Children in Lebanon [EN/AR]

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With support from the international community, Lebanon expands free education for all children to include pre-school and secondary educational opportunities

15 September, 2016 – 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.

For more information please contact:

Ministry of Education and Higher Education

Albert Chamoun
T: +961 3 394 994
E: albertchamoun@gmail.com

Sonia Khoury
T : +961 3 884 075
E : SKhoury@MEHE.gov.lb

UNICEF

Soha Boustani,
T: +961 3 236 167
E: sboustani@unicef.org

Salam Abdulmunem
T : +961 7 996 605
E : sabdulmunem@unicef.org

UNHCR

Dana Sleiman
T : +961 71 910 626 E : sleiman@unhcr.org

Lisa Abou Khaled T : +961 71 880 070 E : aboukhal@unhcr.org

UNESCO

Jad Merhi E : j.merhi@unesco.org

Memac Ogilvy
Blanche Baz / Tala Kreidieh
T: +961 1 486065
E: blanche.baz@ogilvy.com

Notes to Editors

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.

Statements and quotes from Back to School initiative donors (2016/17):

Statement from the European Union:

The European Union is a key partner in supporting the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) in providing access to quality education to the highest possible number of children in Lebanon, as it believes that education is a right for every child. To date the European Union has committed around USD 38.3 million for RACE 2 for the 2016-2017 school year alone. Additional funds have been mobilised for RACE 2 on a multiyear basis and for bilateral cooperation with MEHE and higher education institutions.

Statement from the German Embassy:

On the occasion of the launching to the new “Back-to-School” campaign 2016-17, the German Embassy in Beirut would like to inform that Germany remains Lebanon’s biggest bilateral partner in the “Reaching all Children with Education” program, with a total contribution of more than 100 Million US Dollars since 2014. This year Germany provides 33 Million US Dollars to enroll Syrian Refugees and vulnerable Lebanese and another 30 Million US Dollars for school rehabilitation, Non Formal Education and Youth Programs. Together with other development partners, Germany supports the enrollment of more 230.000 Syrian refugee children and the decision to waive school fees for vulnerable Lebanese families. A new contribution has just been made available by the German Government to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and will be implemented in close cooperation with the Lebanese Ministry for Education and Higher Education under the “Reaching all Children with Education” programme.

In doing so, Germany supports the Ministry`s goal to achieve the enrollment of Syrian refugees in public schools throughout Lebanon. This will be achieved by opening more than 300 schools for 2nd shift, therefore serving Lebanese and Syrian pupils alike. Ambassador Martin Huth has praised the decision of the Lebanese authorities to increase the enrollment opportunities for Syrian refugees in public schools: “I would like to congratulate Minister Bou Saab and the Lebanese government for their bold and important decision. This will allow more Syrian children to continue their education and to acquire the skills and knowledge that will be required in adolescence and their adult life. In doing so, Lebanon and her development partners ensure that the conflict in Syria does not create a lost generation among the Syrian youth. Germany is proud to contribute 33 Million US Dollars for the school year 2016/2017 and will continue to be an important partner in the future. I would also like emphasize that the “Reaching all Children with Education” initiative also serves Lebanese families.” Germany also provides funding to food assistance, to water and sanitary services, waste-management, to basic health services and other humanitarian needs. Since the inception of the refugee crisis in 2012, Germany has provided more than 400 million US Dollar in support of Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon.

Statement from British Ambassador Hugo Shorter:

“I commend the leadership of the government of Lebanon and His Excellency Minister Elias Bou Saab in their efforts to ensure every child in Lebanon has a good quality education. The UK is investing up to £160m over four years in the government’s Reaching All Children with Education (RACE) plan, with up to £40m this coming school year. We believe no child should be left behind, which is why the UK is investing directly in Lebanon’s public schools to ensure every child has a free, quality education. In addition, I am delighted that the UK has increased its support to government-endorsed non-formal education for out-of-school Syrians and vulnerable Lebanese”