Feature: UNICEF education program supporting Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-15 17:06:53|Editor: Yamei
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by Salah Takieddine

BEIRUT, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Within the context of its program to support the Lebanese vulnerable communities and the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is supporting the Lebanese public education system through funds from global donors, prioritizing the enrollment of Lebanese and non-Lebanese school-aged children in formal public education.

The UNICEF noted the funds from the government of China have contributed to raising awareness of the importance of education and improving quality education through the provision of school supplies and teacher training.

Chinese-funded educational supplies were distributed last October to around 86,000 Syrian refugee students in Lebanon by Chinese ambassador to Lebanon Wang Kejian, who was joined by Lebanese Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh and UNICEF representative in Lebanon Tanya Chapuisat.

The donation was made through Lebanon's Reach all Children with Education campaign, an ongoing collaborative effort between the Lebanese Ministry of Education and the United Nations.

Wang said that the Chinese donation, which expressed China's sympathy and support to the Syrian refugees, aimed at helping Lebanon deal with the refugee crisis.

"We truly wish for the return of the Syrian refugees to their homeland with acceleration of the political solution process in Syria so that these refugees can live in a secure, peaceful and prosperous atmosphere," the Chinese envoy said.

The Bar Elias Secondary School in Lebanon's Bekaa region was among the schools being supported by UNICEF.

"If such schools do not exist, those children coming from refugee camps will be left in streets. They are very poor and their families cannot afford ordinary school education, so these kind of schools and programs are protecting these children from illiteracy and giving them the chance to study," Sawsan Araji, the school's director, told Xinhua.

Hedinn Halldorsson, communication specialist at UNICEF's Lebanon Country Office said that UNICEF and the Lebanese Ministry of Education are providing free education for all school-aged children all over the country.

"But the free schooling program is not enough for attracting all children to schools because there can be many issues hindering them from coming to schools," he stressed, saying if a family is not able to secure basic food need, children may be forced to work which would stop them from getting education.

"There are so many areas we need to look at. We need to look for healthcare, access to drinking water. We need to make sure that children are in good health to attend schools," Halldorsson said.

He added for 2018, various donors and countries helping UNICEF, and different ministries in Lebanon have offered financial support to help continue supporting both vulnerable Lebanese communities and Syrian refugees, but the funds are drying up amid less donors and less interest from the public.