One in every six people currently in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee.
Yes, you read that right.
Lebanon hosts the largest percentage of refugees in the world given its population, with more than one million Syrian refugees registered in a country of just 4.5 million citizens. All these people living in an area less than a quarter of the size of Tasmania.
More than half of the refugees are children, and 48% of them aged 6-14 are out of school.
Fleeing conflict and persecution
The influx of new arrivals fleeing the Syrian civil war and persecution by Daesh (or 'ISIS') militants, has put an enormous strain on church and government services, particularly educational institutions. In response, the government of Lebanon has started a 'double shift' system in hundreds of state schools but the gap is still massive. The role of Christian schools is more important than ever.
Christian churches in Lebanon have established extensive refugee support programs, and their schools are providing education for children from refugee and displaced families regardless of race, nationality or religion.
Through our networks, UnitingWorld will support churches in Lebanon to provide schooling for more Syrian children and prevent them falling further behind in their education.
Together we can help prevent a 'lost generation' of Syrian kids missing out on school.
If you believe that all children deserve an education, we'd love you to join us!
Just $200 will help support a Syrian child through school for a year in Lebanon.
Working through ACT Alliance members in the region, including the Middle East Council of Churches, and local churches on the ground, UnitingWorld will work to improve access to education for children whose families are impacted by the crisis. Lebanese churches and ACT Alliance members have established humanitarian programs that are already providing assistance to refugees of food, water and shelter.
Church-run schools in Lebanon are educating a large proportion of non-Christian students and they’re committed to teaching a broad curriculum that is accessible and appropriate for children of all faiths. Many of the schools are offering low cost education to refugee children if they have the funding to do so.
No child left behind
Our church partners in the region want all children in Lebanon to be able to access quality education regardless of race, religion or nationality.
"Our schools cater for students of all backgrounds and religions.” - Rev Joseph Kassab, General Secretary of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon.
“We don't seek to convert them, but to love them and educate them. Students come to our schools because they receive a good education. But much more than that, students learn to live together in respectful, tolerant and harmonious relationships. They learn to live in communities, diverse but united. That's what Syria needs, and what the world needs - people who seek to live together respectfully, tolerant of difference.”
A child with an education is a child with a future. Education is critical to development, flowing into all aspects of life. Letting Syrian children fall behind would increase the likelihood that they fall into the cycle of poverty and exploitation, especially for girls.
What it takes to make an impact
We're aiming to crowdfund $80,000 to get the initial project off the ground. But we need to be ambitious if we’re going to make an impact. The more we raise - the more educational services we can expand and the more Syrian kids we can get into classrooms.
Syrian children are leaving the education system because the combined costs of living and attending school is out of reach for many families. Just $100 will help keep them resourced and able to attend classes for 6 months.
“We need to keep asking ourselves, what can we do to help our brothers and sisters in Syria?” – Rev. Gaby Kobrossi, Bankstown District Uniting Church
This question is what began the initiative to support Syrian children access education in Lebanon.
Churches taking action
Many churches in Australia have been helping Syrian people as they arrive through Australia’s Humanitarian Programme (almost 20,000 since September 2015), by providing transport and accommodation assistance, helping them access health and language services; and welcoming them into their churches and communities.
Bankstown District Uniting Church in Sydney’s Western Suburbs is a great example. They are helping some 350 newly settled Syrian families get back on their feet and settle into life in Australia by hosting daily English lessons, sharing a weekly community meal, and welcoming them into the life of their church and wider community.
Syrian community taking action
The Syrian newcomers have been sharing stories of how hard it was for them as refugees in Lebanon and hope to help their friends, neighbours and family members who are still back there. One of the key issues they identified was the difficulty of getting their children into school while they were living in Lebanon. They were turned away because all schools are severely overcrowded.
They want to do something about it and so do we.
Many other Uniting Churches from across Australia have been calling us and asking what they can do to help the Syrian people. This is it!
$50 will help enable a Syrian child to access quality education for a quarter of a year.
There are thousands of Syrians now living in Australia, and many are starting to tell their stories so that people here understand, and that through their accounts they might be able to help others in Syria and Lebanon.
“My house in Aleppo was bombed twice, my kids were drinking poisoned water but I couldn’t leave because I worked as a civil engineer for the government and would be seen as a traitor. I sent my family to Lebanon but life was so tough for them there that I had to follow to make sure they were safe. Once I left I couldn’t go back. My family and I were some of the lucky ones.”
“When we left Syria we left everything. Before the war we had a good life; good jobs, our kids were at school and we didn’t have to worry about what will happen to us from day to day.”
“My son used to be able to walk to school when we lived in Syria. Now in Lebanon the only school that will take him is miles away from where we live and work, and too dangerous for him to go. We’re stuck, because if you cannot work in Lebanon, you cannot survive.”
“Every day we think about friends that are still in danger in Syria, and people still struggling to live in Lebanon.”
- 1,067,785 Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon in 2016
- 53% of them are children
- 20,725 other nationalities (mainly Iraqis fleeing conflict) registered in 2016
- 48% of refugee children aged 6-14 are out of school
- Lebanon has the largest percentage of refugees given its population – more than 1 million registered in a country of 4.5 million citizens
- In hundreds of small municipalities the population has risen by 50%, putting huge pressure on services and increasing tensions
- 70 per cent of the 248,000 Syrian refugee households in Lebanon live below the poverty line.
The fine print.
Intervention Strategy for initial project
The initial project coordinated alongside ACT Alliance members will increase access to formal and non-formal education for targeted school-age children and youth who may otherwise be at risk of becoming part of a ‘lost generation’ of Syrian children, whose schooling has been interrupted due to the crisis. To address this, funds will provide remedial classes and assistance both within formal education structures and outside these structures, along with financial support to students to enable them to achieve better grades and encourage them to remain in school as opposed to seeking work.
Additionally, workshops for teachers will provide additional support on how best to engage pupils. This will provide greater incentive for children to remain or return to formal education and enable them to perform better in class and examinations so that there are more opportunities available to them in the future. ACT Alliance members will coordinate with relevant stakeholders to ensure spaces are available for children in the local schools and quality education is provided, inclusive of children with disabilities.
Gaps in education resulting from the crisis are reduced
-3,360 students facing challenges in education will be enrolled in remedial and non-formal education (for children who have dropped out of school) classes
Vulnerable children and students who are at risk of leaving the education system will stay enrolled in classes through additional financial assistance
- 600 students will receive grants to enable them to continue/return to education
Stationary kits distributed
-4,000 children will receive school stationary kits
Students whose education has been disrupted are encouraged to remain/return to school
1,800 girls will be encouraged to remain/return to education
- 24 workshops for female students will be conducted
- 24 workshops for parents will be conducted
- 24 workshops for teachers will be conducted
- 16 workshops on informal education and counselling for girls and housewives will be conducted
- 3 kindergartens will be established
Capacity building of teachers, facilitators and parents to support children in their education
- 8 training courses on effective teaching for 1,280 teachers will be conducted
- 1 training manual on effective teaching for teachers will be produced
Educational facilities are rehabilitated and equipped to ensure better access to all children
- 5,000 students will benefit from improved facilities and environment in schools
Increased impact and expansion of outcomes beyond the initial project will depend on available funding.
The technical stuff.
All donations $2 and over are tax deductible.
Who is UnitingWorld?
UnitingWorld is the international development and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia. For more than 50 years we have worked alongside hundreds of communities in Asia, Africa and the Pacific in the areas of health, education, economic empowerment, gender equity, peace and Christian leadership.
Our vision is to see transformed, hopeful communities living free from poverty and injustice, achieved through genuine and vibrant partnerships. To read more, visit www.unitingworld.org.au
Or if videos are more your thing...
Why trust us?
UnitingWorld is accredited with the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and a member of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID). As signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct we are required to meet high standards of corporate governance, public accountability and financial management. Read more about our memberships and accreditation.
We work hard to ensure all donations are used efficiently, effectively and targeted to make the most impact in people's lives. In order to run an organisation and use funds effectively, there are unavoidable regulatory and administrative overheads. For the UnitingWorld Relief and Development Unit, these account for 6% of our total expenditure. UnitingWorld's full finances can be found in our Annual Report.
All UnitingWorld partners and members of the ACT Alliance have a shared commitment to safeguarding children and taking concrete measures to prevent misconduct. All staff must be signatories to the Code of Conduct, and are responsible for upholding and promoting the highest ethical and professional standards in their work.
We love their great looking, easy-to-use platform, and as a social enterprise seeking to change the world - we have shared interests!
You can also donate directly via our website.
'In Lebanon, refugees face hardship - but find hope' - World Council of Churches. "In Syria, the local church as an institution in the community has enabled access to areas and to refugees and those affected by violence that would not have been possible otherwise."
UNHCR Report on Lebanon (2016) stats, background and context on the situation in Lebanon.
‘For Syrian refugees in Lebanon, a drive to build community amid pressing challenges’ - Christian Science Monitor
'Investment needed to prevent a 'lost generation' in Syria' - Telegraph UK