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Supporting improved education access for all children in Lebanon

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Tom Pugh

RACE II S2r2

The Syrian refugee crisis meant that Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) had to focus on coordinating and managing an emergency response. Since 2011, MEHE has created places for more than 200,000 non-Lebanese students in its public schools, from a starting point of around 3,000. As a result, the kindergarten to grade nine public school population has doubled in the past seven years. Today, more than half of the pupils enrolled in these grades in public schools are non-Lebanese.

The Reaching All Children with Education (RACE II) programme is supporting public sector education service delivery and the strengthening of the formal education system with world class technical assistance in line with the Government of Lebanon’s second RACE II strategy, focused on equitable access, enhanced quality, and strengthened systems. We are providing technical assistance to the Support to RACE II (S2R2) programme.

Challenges

  • The number of Syrian students aged 3-18 in the Lebanese public education system has increased dramatically rising from 18,780 students in 2011-12 academic year to approximately 220,000 students in 2018.
  • Syrian refugees are currently educated in a second (afternoon) shift within existing Lebanese public schools. This has inevitably strained the formal education system’s ability to maintain the level of quality and equity in the education system.
  • In addition, capacity to oversee and monitor the education system is limited by the country’s strained economic situation which has led to a civil service hiring freeze since 2017.
  • Lebanon’s power-sharing coalition government means that reforming complex issues like curriculum reform and budgetary allocations are extremely difficult. The curriculum, for example, hasn’t been updated since 1997 and it recently took 12 years to pass a budget.
  • Like other ministries, the MEHE recruits and replaces civil servants in a consociational manner, based upon representation of different religious confessions across public positions, rather than simply using competency-based criteria.

Our approach

The project's approach to achieving the intended deliverables is through focusing on the following key areas: 

  • support to MEHE to incrementally adopt evidence-based, comprehensive, and integrated sector-wide planning and budgeting;
  • support to the strengthening of management systems in MEHE, including better monitoring of performance, financial management, and management of procurement;
  • support to the building of individual and team capacities at the director level and within directorates;
  • support to the design and implementation of practical interventions to improve the quality of teaching and learning in Lebanese schools, derived from national and international research and evidence, and
  • support to directors and their staff in identifying opportunities to streamline processes and help them to achieve greater efficiency, in particular making better use of modern information and communication technologies.

Outcomes

The overall vision of the programme is to ensure that more vulnerable Syrian and Lebanese children are enrolled in school, stay longer, learn more, and are supported by a stronger public service delivery culture. It offers funds, embedded long-term experts (people), and policy advice on planning, processes, and financial management (policy and processes) to improve the Lebanese education system. This in turn will achieve increased access and better quality education for Syrian and Lebanese children in public schools. The ultimate impact of our work is that more vulnerable Syrian and Lebanese chidren are enrolled in school, stay logner, learn more, and are supported by a stronger public service delivery culture.

Image credit: DFID on Flickr