News / Middle East

Syrian Refugee Children Welcomed in Lebanese Schools

Paige Kollock
It is back to school time in Lebanon and students are finding new classmates who have fled Syria.  The U.N. High Commission for Refugees says there are an estimated 20,000 Syrian refugee children attending Lebanese schools. As more Syrians cross the border, the problems of educating them become harder. 
 
It is Friday afternoon at Averroes college in Taalabaya, Lebanon and these children are filing out, getting picked up by their parents or boarding buses to go home for the weekend.  
 
But just a half hour later, other children fill the classroom.  They are Syrian refugees and they are sharing the same building as their Lebanese counterparts, but with different courses and teachers.   
 
Averroes College Principal Bilal Houshaymi began taking in Syrian students and teachers in August after receiving funding from two non-governmental organizations.  
 
“We accepted at the beginning 18 teachers for 200 students, but since we started this process, we have more students and more students, we did not refuse anybody, and now we have around 350 students," he said. 
 
While private schools like Averroes have separate programs, public schools are mixing Syrian and Lebanese students, creating a number of logistical problems, the main one of which is curriculum, says Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee resident Khaldoun Sharif, an advisor to Lebanese Prime Minister Nagib Mikati.
 
“The studying program in Syria is very much different than these in our country, because in Lebanon we study in French, in English and in Arabic. In Syria, all the studies should be in Arabic," he said. 
 
Recently, says Sharif, the Lebanese government took several steps to accommodate Syrians, such as extending the deadline to enroll in schools and providing $130 million to fund their books.  
 
The United Nations Refugee Agency is also helping by offering remedial classes to help Syrian students catch up.  But there are more problems than a difference in education level and language says Dana Sleiman, information officer with the UNHCR.
 
"Many public schools are saturated in terms of capacity, so that is why we are going to provide transportation to those who do not have a school nearby that can host them," she said. 
 
Many of the Syrians at Averroes have witnessed extreme violence back at home, and are now living in bad conditions or working in low wage jobs, like 21-year-old Samer Maidani from Damascus.
 
“I felt really happy when I heard that there is a free school, because honestly, I am working now before school hours and I have to work to pay the rent for the house," he said. 
 
Seventeen-year-old Salam Rifaai from Homs lost her brother in the war, and longs to go back to Syria, a longing that helps her study despite what she has been through.
 
“I can [focus] ... because ... we are the people who will take over the country and build the new Syria," he said. 
 
Continuing their education in Lebanon is helping these refugee children get through the most difficult time in their lives, but there is no guarantee their studies will be recognized by the Syrian government when and if they return.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs