Improving quality teaching and learning for vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugee children

Lebanon, in addition to its previously four million inhabitants, now has about 1,5 million refugees from Syria living there. The situation is tense and extremely precarious. By means of a school project, Caritas is creating a safe and stimulating learning environment for 9100 Syrian refugee children and disadvantaged Lebanese children. Thus the children can follow the lessons and so get through their day at school with some success to show for it. The teachers receive training courses to help them to cope with the partially traumatized and disadvantaged children. Furthermore, the management skills of head teachers are strengthened.


Country / Region / Place 
Government Mount Libanon, North Libanon, Bekaa, Baalbek, and Beirut, Libanon

Target group
4,040 direct beneficiaries: 3,600 Syrian (70%) and Lebanese (30%) school children and youth, 340 teachers, and 100 school directors and other school personnel.

Funding requirement
CHF 3'567'828

Project duration 
01.10.2016 - 30.09.2019

Project number

Project objective
Enhanced quality of education services and learning environments to ensure grade-appropriate learning outcomes for children and youth.

Project coordinator
Richard Asbeck, Tel. 041 419 22 29, rasbecknot shown@caritasto make life hard for spam bots.ch


Background information

The conflict in Syria is in its eighth year and there is no political solution in sight. The war has displaced more than 11 million Syrians, most of whom are living in neighbouring countries. The extent of the humanitarian crisis is also an immense challenge to host communities. Approximately 1.5 million Syrians have fled to Lebanon, corresponding to one third of the Lebanese population. No other country hosts more refugees per capita.

Most Syrian refugees have no work and their resources are depleted, but also the Lebanese host community is increasingly impoverished. Children are suffering the most from this situation. Many families cannot afford sending their children to school. Instead, they often have to work and are the families’ sole income providers. Where children can go to school, learning environments are challenging. Many children are living in most difficult economic and social conditions and are suffering from traumatizing experiences leading to special learning difficulties and high dropout rates.

The Lebanese Ministry of Education has adopted the ambitious five-year plan RACE II (Reaching All Children with Education), aiming at integrating all 450’000 refugee children into public schools by 2021. This poses an enormous challenge to the school system, which was already in an ailing condition before the outbreak of the war in Syria. Teachers are under huge pressure. Due to scarce available resources, measures such as double shifts were introduced, with the Lebanese children attending class in the morning and Syrian children in the afternoon. Elsewhere, class sizes were simply doubled. The often underpaid and insufficiently qualified teachers are expected to work more hours in a very difficult learning environment.

Although many children have special learning needs and are at different knowledge levels due to school years missed, traditional teacher-centred teaching is still common in Lebanon. Syrian learners are, however, not even able to understand the language of instruction. In Syria, the language of instruction is Arabic while in Lebanon, mathematics and natural sciences are taught in either English or French. Teachers are not adequately trained to meet the children’s individual learning – and remedial needs. These challenges are increasingly reflected in a deteriorating quality of education for all schoolchildren and often leads to tensions, frustration and rejection. 


What are we doing?

To improve school success of Syrian refugee and vulnerable Lebanese children in the long term, Caritas Switzerland, together with its local partner organisation Ana Aqra Association (AAA) tackles the complex problem at various levels. The project aims at creating a safe and supportive learning environment enabling all children to learn in age-appropriate classes and successfully master their education. To this end, teachers from 25 particularly affected schools receive in-service training and coaching to increase their pedagogical and didactical competences to support children in their challenging learning process. In particular, children benefit through improved remedial education and homework support.

Further, the project coordinates closely with the Lebanese Ministry of Education to enhance teachers’ education and further training nationwide and in the long term. Teachers will improve their skills to meet special learning needs of children of all backgrounds across the whole country. The project further strengthens school managements to provide teachers as well as children with an appropriate working- and learning environment.  

The project also cooperates with Caritas Austria who supports private and semi-private schools in areas where there are no public schools. As a result, poor Lebanese and Syrian children whose families cannot afford private schooling will have access to education. In addition to providing teacher training and school management support, Caritas Switzerland supports the four beneficiary schools in the field of education, psychosocial support and monitoring and evaluation.

Caritas Switzerland’s engagement is based on three fields of activity.

  1. A pre-service learning module for future teachers studying at the Institute of Teacher Education at the Lebanese University is developed to improve remedial- and homework support across Lebanon. The module will later be integrated into the official teacher education curriculum.
  2. Under academic supervision and in close collaboration with the partner organisation and Lebanese Ministry of Education, AAA’s ongoing in-service teacher training and coaching for teachers working in public schools will be evaluated and further developed.
  3. Coaches of the Ministry of Education support school managements in improving the quality of remedial education at their schools, thus enabling a safe and appropriate learning environment for teachers and learners.

The project is being developed in close cooperation with the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF), Caritas Austria and the Lebanese Ministry of Education and implemented by the Lebanese NGO Ana Aqra Association. The project is supported by the Lebanese University and the University of Teacher Education Zug.


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