According to the latest data, Lebanon, a country of 4 million people, hosts more than one million refugees, the largest number per capita in the world. After the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, public schools were not ready to welcome the huge number of school-age refugees which accounts for more than a half of those displaced in Lebanon. UNHCR data claims that 74% of Syrian school-age children do not have residency in Lebanon. This is one of the many barriers they face in accessing public schools in Lebanon. The years of education missed due to the conflict also poses as a barrier in passing the entrance exams required to enter the public schools in Lebanon.
In 2018, the Syrian war reached its seventh year. In the longer term, this young generation, who should be the ones rebuilding Syria, will be a “lost generation”. A generation deprived of the right to education, a right recognized by the United Nations Convention of Human Rights.
Barriers to education are a reality and can either be financial or logistical in nature. Lack of legal permits, high school fees, and transportation costs all constitute as barriers to education. This, as well as their financial situation, leaves them vulnerable to exploitation, and children often work, losing precious days of education, which ultimately means losing their childhood and the opportunity to develop. Their childhood is then restricted to helping their parents and their family survive. Adolescent girls are amongst the most vulnerable categories, highly exposed to exploitation and other forms of abuse.
In order to prevent a so-called ‘lost generation’ from happening, SB OverSeas , an NGO working in Belgium and Lebanon, provides catch-up schools in the most disadvantaged areas populated by refugee populations. Attending these schools grants these children the opportunity to prepare for the entrance exam tests and be admitted into the Lebanese education system. This year, the“Give Hope” campaign will be launched the 4th April and set a more ambitious target of 1,400 children accessing education.
Louma Albik, Chairwoman of SB OverSeas, calls on the entire community in Brussels to contribute: “By joining this campaign, people can play an active role in supporting access to education and giving hope for a better future to the hundreds of students we support in our schools.” SB OverSeas invites everyone to join this solidarity movement on social media with the hashtag #GiveHope and tagging SB OverSeas.