SYRIA'S children are at risk of becoming a "lost generation",
the UN has warned, as fewer than a quarter of those who are
refugees in Lebanon are enrolled in public education.
Last month, the UN reported that the number of Syrians seeking
refuge in Lebanon had exceeded one million. It warned that the
country, which had shown "striking generosity", was "already
stretched to breaking point". Syrian refugees now represent almost
a quarter of the population, and the number of Syrian
schoolchildren in the country is expected to double by the end of
2014 to 700,000.
Ross Mountain, the acting UN resident and humanitarian
co-ordinator in Lebanon, said that it was "imperative that the
international community helps bear the brunt of pressure on
Christian charities are seeking to help. "All the children we
are teaching had been without schooling for at least a year, some
many years more," said one British charity worker, who is teaching
15 children in Lebanon, this month.
The project is supported by Middle East Christian Outreach
(MECO), an international interdenominational agency that works with
churches in the region. Itis approved by the Lebanese government.
Fifteen children, aged four to 12, attend the education centre, in
the Sunday-school rooms of a church, from Monday to Thursday,
learning Arabic, English, and maths in three 50-minute periods
every day. There are four teachers.
Canon Mike Parker, international director of MECO, said: "As our
Christian friends in the Middle East are under such pressure at the
moment, this is a significant new initiative. It's a great example
of our commitment to partner with local Christians as they respond
practically and spiritually to the circumstances overwhelming their
Another Christian charity, Global Care, is working to support
the education of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. This month, it
announced that it would dedicate £77,000 to pay for 15 children
from a settlement known as "Widows' Camp" to attend an informal
school set up by Heart for Lebanon, a Lebanese Christian agency.
The money will fund teachers' salaries, rent, transport from the
camp, food, and teaching materials.
The school meets in a church building in Ain Kfar Zabad, a
village near the border with Syria. Global Care is raising funds to
support another 19 children at a cost of £500 per child, per
In December, a UN report - Education Interrupted -
outlined four recommendations to prevent Syrian children from
becoming a "lost generation". It included a call to "scale up
success and innovation", including "non-formal learning centres",