Education in Lebanon

UNRWA in Lebanon provides education services to 39,144 Palestine1 refugee students, in its 65 schools.

UNRWA education in Lebanon has been implementing the Education Reform Strategy, which is designed to meet the needs of the 21st century to help students become innovative, critical and creative thinkers. A Teacher Policy was developed, which recognized the central role of teachers in quality education and sought to strengthen professional teacher and career progression. In Lebanon field, classroom practices are being improved through the professional development School Based Teacher Development (SBTD I and II) programmes, with 845 UNRWA teachers in Lebanon completing the SBTD I, and about 479 teachers the SBTD II programme as of December 2018. In addition, the Leading for the Future (LftF) programme is intended to engage the School Principals and Deputy School Principals in reflecting on their own leadership and learning new approaches, reaching approximately 101 School Principals (SPs) and Deputy School Principals(D/SPs) by December 2018, and for the current SY 2021-2022, year 30 SPs and D/SPs will be engaged in a new cohort.

The Human Rights, Conflict Resolution and Tolerance (HRCRT) programme has been key in all UNRWA schools since 1999. As in all Fields, in UNRWA Lebanon, HRCRT concepts were initially taught through the use of supplementary enrichment materials that sought to integrate human rights-related concepts into the regular subjects taught. In 2012, UNRWA launched its HRCRT Policy and the HRCRT Toolkit was developed in 2013 to help teachers create and sustain a culture of human rights in their classrooms and schools in line with the HRCRT Policy. As part of the HRCRT programme, School parliaments of elected students represent all students and support their local communities as appropriate; in 2017 the first field-level student parliament was elected in UNRWA Lebanon. A student parliamentarian from Lebanon field represented UNRWA students in the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2017.  In 2020, a student parliamentarian from Lebanon field represented UNRWA students in an online conference under the title “Creative Leadership”, organized by Initiatives of Change organization. A parliamentarian student from Lebanon field was nominated to be 2021 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum’s keynote speaker and also was selected to address the ECOSOC Youth Forum Ministerial Roundtable.  In 2021, one of UNRWA parliamentarian students participated in the ‘Voices from Palestine Refugee Youth: challenges, aspirations, and opportunities’ Virtual Event, hosted by UNRWA Representative Office, New York, and co-organized by the Education Department HQ(A).

Lebanon field uses the UNRWA Curriculum Framework, introduced in 2013, to support the review of all textbooks and learning materials used in UNRWA schools. This helps ensure that the curriculum reflects UN values, acknowledges the Palestinian heritage and culture of the students, and meets their learning needs. From 2010 to 2019, Lebanon field also developed its own Arabic and English language textbooks, (grades 1 to 9), in addition to integrated activities for grades 1 to 3 (including: civics, science, geography and arts) in line with the Lebanese Ministry of Education curriculum objectives, but also reflecting UN values.

Through its Education in Emergencies (EiE) programme, UNRWA supported the integration of over 6,500 Palestine refugee students from Syria in its schools in Lebanon in the 2013/2014 school year who, initially taught in separate second shift schools, gradually benefited from full integration with their Palestine refugees from Lebanon peers as of 2015/2016 school year. The EiE response in Lebanon crucially emphasized support to the psychosocial wellbeing of children, with the deployment of additional counsellors to help mitigate the traumas of the conflict in Syria and displacement to Lebanon. To complement essential psychosocial support services, various recreational activities were organized.

In line with its Inclusive Education strategy, the UNRWA Education Program makes use of the IE toolkit for the identification and response to students’ needs related to learning, health, PSS, disability.

Providing psychosocial support is a key element of its education provision in all UNRWA schools, and psychosocial support becomes even more important in times of emergency and it is a crucial part of the UNRWA Education in Emergencies program. The continued availability of PSS services remains critical to improve children’s social and emotional learning, as well as to build their resilience by providing them with the tools to positively cope with shocks and stress.

4,580 PRS and 3,328 PRL children were reached by PSS activities by mid of year 2021.

In the year 2022, school counsellors will continue to provide individual and group counselling, awareness sessions for both children and caregivers, as well as parenting skills sessions. These sessions will be delivered through in-person individual and group counselling when schools are open, while ensuring social distancing, or through online support in the case of remote learning (through online meetings and/or phone calls)

Moreover, in order to support children with learning difficulties to improve their “basic skill deficiencies” in core subject areas, such as reading, writing and mathematics which have been identified primarily by the classroom teacher, the Education Program in Lebanon has in place the Learning Support program (LSP), an instructional tailored assistance in response to children’s specific needs, to support them in acquiring a desired level of academic achievement. At the outbreak of COVID-19 in year 2020, the program, originally covering early grades 1 and 2, was required to adapt its intervention to the emerging needs of a new teaching approach by supporting the classroom teachers in grades 1 to 9 through the provision of tutoring interventions to help children with learning difficulties navigate the online self-learning materials. In the 2020 – 2021 school year, the LSP provided remote tutoring support to 4,569 children, and health education to more than 30,000 students in line with UNRWA School Health Strategy (SHS) and Protocol for safe reopening of schools focusing on good hygiene practices in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

 Following the successful implementation of a pilot in Beddawi camp, the Addressing Violence Affecting Children (AVAC) Initiative has been rolled out to Burj Barajneh camp. Over 1,500 community members were reached by awareness-raising sessions on child protection and positive parenting, and 600 students attended theatre plays on bullying prevention in schools, and 561 caregivers attended structured parenting skills sessions. There has been progress in some of the pillars and strands of the Strategic Framework. This includes:  1) Reaching out the AVAC sub-group in each department/ program at LFO to discuss and identify the priorities on VAC and steps forward, 2) Collecting Data on VAC and SEA cases and analyze it to identify trends and steps forwards, 3) Discussing with Chief of Staff on the necessity to have UNRWA Safeguarding policy to endorse UNRWA work on Child Protection and Zero tolerance for VAC, 4) Review the HR policies and practices with regards to Zero tolerance policy for VAC/SEA, 5) Proceeding in the recruitment of VAC/PSEA trainer to conduct trainings on UNRWA’s Regulatory Framework, Obligations and Commitments in Relation to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) and Sexual Harassment, 6) Continuing to conduct awareness sessions remotely for caregivers on positive parenting skill and other topics to improve parenting /well-being of children by School Counsellor, 7) Developing two guidelines on bullying prevention by Dawaer in collaboration with School Principals, School counsellors and Teachers: a) 1st guideline : "Positive Steps. Towards a Safe and Bully-free Environment", Family's Guideline, and b) 2nd guideline: "Building Awareness and Prevention, Towards a Safe and Bully-free Environment”, Teacher’s Guideline. The two guidelines will be introduced in the schools in the beginning of the new SY 2021-2022 accompanied with sessions to build capacity of teachers/ School Counsellors, PTA, students, and 8) increased awareness of Edu staff about referral pathway & Improve Operationalization of Referral Pathway for Education Installations: sessions were conducted on Referral SOP to Strategic Unit and other education staff. 

In alignment with its TVET Strategy (launched in year 2014) UNRWA also offers free-of charge technical and vocational training through the Siblin Training Centre (STC), with two main campuses, one in the south and one in the north of Lebanon. During the 2020/2021 school year, a total of 803 students (289 girls, 514 boys) were enrolled at the centre.  STC also registered an employability rate of 67% of the trainees who graduated in year 2020.

In light of the rapidly changing context in Lebanon, both due to the socio-economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, over the year 2021 STC had to re-orient the way its services are delivered and re-assess the relevance and responsiveness of its TVET services. Further attention has been paid to meeting trainees learning and skills’ needs, enhancing the digitalization of TVET services, running additional market relevant short-term courses and institutionalizing linkages with industry. These initiatives will require further extensive trainings and capacity building initiatives to be implemented in the year 2022 for staff at STC to ensure that they are fully equipped to deliver new courses and conduct relevant outreach. It is envisaged that these initiatives will expand the knowledge and professional readiness of Palestine refugee youth, thereby supporting Palestine refugee youth to be more self-reliant and resilient.

In addition, support to young people is provided by the Youth Unit. The UNRWA Youth Strategic Framework for Palestine refugees in Lebanon was officially launched in May 2018, the first of its kind among all UNRWA Field Offices. In 2020-2021, 413 youth participated in digital skills, 635 in social entrepreneurship training courses, and 93  in life skills training provided at the Agency’s two Innovation Labs. In addition, 75 young entrepreneurs benefitted from the mentorship of business professionals from the community.

Lebanon field further supports the employability and entrepreneurial skills of Palestine refugee youth through its 3 Youth Innovation and Employment hubs (YIE) placed at STC two campuses and at LFO, providing services for PRL/PRS youth in the fields of cash-for-work job opportunities, career counseling, life skills training, entrepreneurial skills trainings, access to fabrication lab, digital skills training, mentorship services and skills training with YIE partners and stakeholders.

During the year 2021, 1409 youth (of whom more than 900 females) were placed in jobs under cash-for-work for 40 working days; 14% of them were able to retain their job after 6 months of placements.

The Lebanon challenging context has brought about opportunities for the UNRWA Education Program, in terms of seeking, as an education sector, to build back better, to further embed, sustain and enrich the principles and practices of Education reforms. Being innovative in finding solutions to new problems will not only respond to the very urgent needs of the pandemic context, but will strengthen and advance the UNRWA education provision going forward. To support the Education programme’s forward planning over the coming years, a process of professional reflection has been institutionalised to look back over what has been achieved and learned and how this could inform education’s planning and practices going forward. This reflective practice will continue to ensure that lessons learned lead to continuous improvements and innovation. However, the UNRWA Education and TVET programme in Lebanon faces, as all fields, challenges of sufficient funding to cover staffing and non-staffing services  This is particularly challenging within a Lebanon context profoundly impacted by multiple socio-economic and Covid-19 crises, compounded by a national electricity and fuel crises which have substantially impacted the daily lives of refugees.As the Agency continues to operate at a significant shortfall, Education at LFO will continue to seek active fundraising to ensure that the achievements made until now can be maintained and built upon in the years ahead.

1: This number is considered at LFO level as 39,129, whereas that endorsed at HQ-Ed level is 39,144.