Valuing and respecting children as individuals means not just providing the bare minimum of education, but tapping into their natural resources and talents, encouraging them to achieve the very best they can. We are delighted to be working with the British and Foreign School Society (BFSS) who are focussed on enabling children to achieve just this, and are partnering with us to scale up our current education programme in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.
BFSS was formed in 1808 to carry on the work of Joseph Lancaster, a pioneer of school and teacher education. Today they give grants for educational projects both in the UK and internationally and they are focused on widening educational access and opportunity and raising achievement.
Dominic O’Reily, Director at BFSS says "BFSS currently has a focus on supporting education for children affected by armed conflict or natural disaster. This Children on the Edge project is just the sort of work we want to fund and we are delighted that so much progress has been made. I hope that we can grow our working relationship with Children on the Edge so that together we can provide educational support to children who are so desperately in need of it."
Opportunities for Syrian refugee children to be educated at all are severely scarce, let alone a focus of raising achievement. This is why the contribution of BFSS to our current project in Lebanon is so vital.
Widening educational access and opportunity
Whilst integration into Lebanese public schools for Syrian refugee children is encouraged, there is not the capacity to adequately provide for everyone who needs it and many of the children we work with cannot travel safely to these schools. There have also been many reports of safety issues and children suffering from harassment, violence and discrimination which has led to poor retention rates.
To fill these gaps, we work with our Lebanese partner to provide quality informal education to over 300 refugee children in Bekaa Valley and with the additional funding from BFSS, we are beginning to expand the programme by adding two new non-formal schools. With Syrian teachers trained up from within the camps the children will be learning in their own language, in a safe place where they can begin to recover from the trauma they have been through.
Despite these ‘classrooms’ being tented structures in the middle of refugee camps, the standards of education are beginning to soar. In a volatile situation we have new children arriving all the time so they take part in initial assessments and prep classes before they officially enrol in a school.
Once enrolled we monitor the academic progress of every child from the moment they join the programme. We have periodical exams to monitor progress and end of year exams which enable the children to move on to a higher level.
The older children enrolled in the schools are able to attend our accelerated learning programmes which prepares them to pass the ALP exam, enabling them to attend a Lebanese public school or other educational provision if the opportunity arises.
The curriculum that we work with is based on the Lebanese curriculum ensuring that the children are able to integrate both into the public school system and society as a whole. It incorporates elements of the Syrian curriculum to ensure that they will be able to reintegrate into Syrian life if the opportunity arises. The innovative mix of the two curriculums will help the Syrian children to retain a sense of national identity whist at the same time, preparing them to integrate into Lebanese or other international societies.
Each school has a set of learning targets and levels that they work towards throughout the year in Literacy (Arabic), Maths (including numbers, shapes, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, graphs, decimal numbers geometry, probabilities, fraction problems and equations) and English (both reading and writing).
Raising standards has already encouraged children to take extra pride in their work. One parent describing how “My kids are so happy here, they’ve made good friends and they feel settled. I also feel like they have grown in confidence and character. There have been a few times when the weather was bad and I told my son that he didn’t need to go to school. Instead of Ahmed being happy about it, he insisted that he go to school and that he didn’t want to miss out on anything. That’s really amazing.”
Abd Al Karim, age 11 was talking to his teacher when he said “Miss, yesterday a group of foreigners came by and I spoke to them in English the whole time and we understood each other!
It is this kind of pride and joy in learning that we are aiming to garner for these amazing children who are surviving in some of the most adverse conditions in the world. We are grateful to BFSS for enabling this to be a reality.
Find out more about the schools in Lebanon