The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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July 20, 2016

The Daily Star- Less than half of Syrian refugee children attend school, July 20 , 2016

BEIRUT: More than half of the nearly 500,000 school-aged Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are not attending class, a new report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch revealed. Some of those have never stepped foot inside a classroom. “The kids’ education has gone backward,” Jawhar, a Syrian refugee in north Lebanon, told HRW. “We left our country and our homes and now they don’t even have an education.”
HRW recommends a new Lebanese policy to address the problem. “If you want to reach Syrian children and reduce that major gap in the number Syrian kids receiving an education you will need an overall review of Lebanese policy,” Nadim Houry, deputy director of HRW Middle East, North Africa, told The Daily Star. “That is what this report is trying to say.”
Houry also stressed the vital need for the international community to assist Lebanon in taking steps to improve education access.
While over 1.1 million Syrian refugees are registered with UNHCR in Lebanon, there are a large number unrecorded. Many fled Syria when unrest broke out in the country in 2011 and have been in Lebanon ever since. These are of particular concern for NGOs as these children could have missed up to five years of schooling already, making it much more difficult for them to catch up.
The findings, laid out in “‘Growing up Without an Education’: Barriers to Education for Syrian Refugee Children in Lebanon,” highlighted the many positive steps that the Education Ministry has already made to accommodate the thousands of extra pupils, but also made a number of recommendations. It expressed how the challenges must be overcome if there is any chance for the next generation of Syrians.
“Despite Lebanon’s progress in enrolling Syrian children, the huge number of children still out of school is an immediate crisis requiring bold reforms,” Bassam Khawaja, a fellow in the children’s rights division at HRW, said in a statement.
HRW found a number of major obstacles to enrollment and continued attendance when conducting interviews with 156 Syrian refugees and gathering information about more than 500 school-aged children to compile the report.
There are 200,000 places available for Syrians in public schools, less than half the number needed for all the near half million school age Syrian refugee children registered with UNHCR. However, not all the places available are filled, as barriers prevent attendance and the spread of seats doesn’t necessarily reflect density of refugee population.
“Research found that several barriers were still keeping Syrian children from accessing education, even when it is made available,” Khawaja explained, at an event to launch the report at Riviera Hotel. “Some of these will require funding to address, but others will need Lebanon to make serious political changes to ensure that Syrians can get an education.”
The first barrier was the vastly different school curricular in Lebanon, which is often taught in English or French rather than the Arabic which Syrian children are accustomed to. Many struggle to keep up and need remedial education before entering the public school system, causing many to drop out after short time. One possible solution is employing more Syrian teachers to teach classes for Syrian children so they can assist with the transition. This is a project that has seen success in Turkey.
However, Khawaja explained that the main barrier to education was residency permits for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
In Jan. 2015, the government implemented a new policy for residency permits. However, NGOs say that most refugees have been unable to comply with this regulation and now estimate that around two-thirds of Syrians lack legal status. This means they cannot move freely and cannot look for work. Khawaja explained the knock-on effect is many families cannot afford school-related costs like supplies and transportation. Indeed, many are turning to child labor to help support families. “Last year, 70 percent of Syrians in Lebanon were living under the local poverty line of $4 a day.”
The third barrier the report found was arbitrary requirements placed by individual schools on Syrian enrollment, requirements the Education Ministry does not ask for. “These include a valid residency permit, UNHCR certificates, or letters from the local mukhtar, so many [families] have found the requirements difficult or impossible to meet,” Khawaja said.
“There are more rights respecting ways to organize the presence of Syrians in Lebanon that will, on the one hand, make it much easier to obtain basic rights – like the right to education and the right to health – while also making Lebanon safer,” Houry added.
The report also found that the two demographics hardest hit by education issues were 15 to 18-year-olds, who often face pressure to find work and may well struggle with advanced English and French needed for higher level courses, and children with disabilities.
“I think we see the challenges but we also see the opportunities, particularly when we talk about kids with disabilities. Lebanon has been needing a real revolution in the mindset of how to provide education to children with disabilities so maybe this was the crisis needed to finally have this mindset change,” Houry explained.
HRW also called on the international community to step up support to assist Lebanon implement the needed changes, highlighting the collective responsibility to the people of Syria. “It’s in everyone’s interest to ensure that all children in Lebanon can get an education, but the longer children are out of school, the less likely they are to return,” Khawaja said.

Source & Link : The Daily Star

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