UN agencies launch “Learning is Back”, a song on return to learning in the Middle East and North Africa

08 October 2020
UN agencies launch “Learning is Back”, a song on return to learning in the Middle East and North Africa

Ensuring continuity of learning for all children in-person or remotely is a priority as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the region and disrupting the education process.

To watch the music video, download the song and access multimedia products, click here


UN Agencies*[1] in the region unveiled today “Rej’et El Sineh” [‘Learning is Back’], a song to encourage the return to learning for all children and youth across the region.

Music is a powerful medium to disseminate messages to communities. Songs can be entertaining and equally educational, especially for children. This project comes as part of the UN Agencies Regional Joint Action Plan to support countries in the region to put in place policies and strategies that will ensure all children continue their learning in a safe environment, be it at home or in school. UN agencies aim to reach children, parents and teachers with motivational messages and credible information about returning to learning.

The COVID-19 pandemic had interrupted education for nearly 110 million children and young people in the Middle East and North Africa, due to closures and lockdowns. Despite great efforts made, many children have not been able to keep up with their schoolwork.  Adequate access to the internet, electricity and electronic devices remain a challenge and alternative off-line options, including paper based, continue to be relevant.

The economic situation is likely to put pressure on vulnerable families, particularly refugees, not to send children back to school. Globally, nearly half of refugee girls are at risk of dropping out. In the MENA region, at least 1.3 million children in the region are at risk of not coming back to schools. The crisis will further put resources and budgets allocated for the education sector at risk.

The song encourages children to continue learning despite the numerous obstacles they may face, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of adhering to the necessary health measures when reopening education facilities. It is accompanied by a music video that illustrates the guidelines of the safe reopening of schools. This includes the need for physical distancing, wearing masks as required, washing hands and maintaining overall hygiene. It also highlights the blended approach to learning that combines children engaging face to face learning in school with remote learning at home.

The song is a twist to a 1976 original song. Last year, UNICEF included it in its first-ever produced children’s songs album “11” * with songs and lyrics from the world-famous Elias Rahbani.

The UN bodies hope that this song, together with other tools the partners made available in the past months, will demonstrate that education and schooling in the time of COVID-19 is possible.  As the new academic year 2020/2021 starts in extraordinary circumstances, the UN agencies remain committed to support governments with back to learning plans and initiatives towards continuing quality, inclusive and equitable education in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 aspirations.

In this unsettling period, compounded by the epidemiological situation, access to education and other basic services, remain crucial for all children and youth, particularly the most vulnerable, to save our future.

For more information:

Juliette Touma, UNICEF MENA, [email protected] , +962- 79 - 867 4628

Salim Oweis, UNICEF MENA, [email protected] , +962- 79 - 936 5212

Hasan Nabulsi, UNICEF MENA, [email protected] , +962- 79 - 136 8405

Sami Mshasha, UNRWA, [email protected], +972 (0)54 216 8295

Tamara Alrifai, UNRWA, [email protected], +962 (0)79 090 0140

Rula Amin, UNHCR, [email protected], +962 (0) 79 004 5849

Jana Jabbour, UNESCO, [email protected], +961 (0) 3 139 841

Abeer Etefa, WFP, [email protected], +20 106 6663 4352

Reem Nada, WFP, reem.n[email protected], +20 106 6663 4522

Inas Haman, WHO, [email protected], +20 100 015 7385

Notes to Editors:


  • The United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) joined hands to translate the Global Framework on Reopening of Schools (April/June 2020) into a regional action plan referred to in the note.
  • As part of this regional action plan, the Agencies organized a series of webinars with Ministries of Education to discuss the impact of COVID19 on education, to share good practices and ongoing challenges moving forward.
  • A ministerial meeting on Back to Learning will take place on the 14th of October.

*About “11”

UNICEF with the support of the European Union and in partnership with the renown Lebanese composer Jad Rahbani, launched in early 2019 “11”, an album featuring songs performed by children in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The Album was originally composed by the world-famous Elias Rahbani in 1976, during the war in Lebanon. The songs of the Album are free to download on this link.



[1] United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East UNRWA

Background Information: 

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget.

UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.6 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140