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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Lebanon: yearning for knowledge

Yehya leaning against a wall.
© NRC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

All over the world, school is where children make friends, build childhood memories and prepare for their future. However, in Lebanon, a country that has experienced crisis after crisis in recent years, many children are excluded from this life-shaping opportunity.

Usually, refugee children have faced many challenges in accessing quality education due to financial barriers, discrimination, limited school capacity and a lack of civil documents. But amid the worsening crisis, Lebanese children are also increasingly dropping out of school. 

An analysis over 3 years shared by the ministry of education shows a 13% decrease in Lebanese children attending school. The study also shows a 13% increase in Syrian refugee children attending formal education.

Together with partners such as NRC and War Child, EU humanitarian aid continues to help vulnerable out-of-school children with basic literacy and numeracy classes, accelerated learning and other non-formal education.

When needed, they also help get their documentation in order since the lack of previous school certificates is a common barrier to enrolment.

We also fund child protection programmes addressing child labour among other issues, which support both refugee and vulnerable Lebanese children. In addition, EU development programmes also help Syrian and Lebanese children access formal education.

The goal is for the children to integrate into the public school system, but their stories show that barriers are not easy to overcome.  

Yehya

Yehya looking out of a window
“I love the centre because they treat us in a kind and loving way. I never miss a day,” says Yehya, a Syrian refugee, about the education centre. His mom tried to enrol her children in a public school but needed the required school certificates.
© Zaynab Mayladan/NRC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Hazar

Photo of the face of Hazar
Hazar, an 11-year-old, lives in an informal tented settlement in Baalbak with her Syrian family: “I would love to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor and teacher to teach children so they can also achieve their dreams.” She works in a potato field.
© Zaynab Mayladan/NRC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
2 children sitting on the ground reading a schoolbook together.
“My neighbour gave me NRC’s number, and I registered my children at the education centre, says Hazar’s mom. “But now they aren’t attending every day because of work. We’ve lived in this tent for 3 years. The rent increased. We are barely covering it.”
© Zaynab Mayladan/NRC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Mohammed

Mohammed raising his finger in a class room.
Mohammed’s is a success story. After passing the accelerated learning programme a few years ago, he joined a public school. Volunteer teachers gave him support to pass grade 3. He dreams of becoming a doctor and finding a cure for all pandemics.
© War Child Lebanon. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Wael

Photo of the face of Wael.
“I can’t go to school. I work to help my dad pay the rent,” says Wael, Syrian. He supports the family after his father was injured on the job. Since arriving in Lebanon in 2013, he has only attended first grade. He works in construction for €1.50 a day.
© Zaynab Mayladan/NRC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Wael holding a baby sibling in his arms.
“I miss going to recess in the public school; we used to play the train game,” says Wael. “There was a teacher who loved me a lot, and I miss her. Her name is miss Haya. She used to teach me English.”
© Zaynab Mayladan/NRC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions

Cyrine

Photo of Cyrine in a doorway.
Cyrine is Syrian and goes to public elementary school after following early childhood education in Bekaa. “The registration process took time & effort. We visited the school often; we made many phone calls. Cyrine was on the waiting list,” says her father
© NRC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Mostafa

Mostafa sitting on stairs in front of a school.
"When I wanted to enrol in school in Lebanon, they asked for money for transportation and we didn’t have that kind of money,” says Mostafa. “They also asked for my school certificate, but I haven’t been to school before.”
© Zaynab Mayladan/NRC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Mostafa speaking to another person. In the back, part of the school outdoor wall.
“Someone gave the NRC number to my mum,” says Mostafa. “My favourite thing about the education centre is teacher Hawraa. She’s very nice to me, and I also made new friends. I’ve been here 4 months. If they could enrol me in a school, I would ask them to.
© Zaynab Mayladan/NRC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Imad

Photo of the face of Imad.
Imad and his family were displaced in Syria when his 13-year-old brother was killed in an airstrike. They came to Lebanon, and Imad started working to support the family. “I became exhausted working. At times I went at 4 am and came back at 10 pm.
© Zaynab Mayladan/NRC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.
Imad running at the school yard.
“My dream is to be a famous poet,” says Imad. “My mum told me NRC contacted her so I could start going to the education centre. They took us by bus, and I’ve been coming for 3 months. Before, I asked my mum to enrol in school, but the fees were a lot.”
© Zaynab Mayladan/NRC. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Story by Zaynab Mayladan for NRC & War Child.
Publication date: 24/01/2023