The latest round of interviews our partners have done with children, parents and teachers about the tent schools we support in Lebanon have reflected a great term, with lots of new opportunities for all involved.
For the first time we had a round of ‘end-of-year tests’ and a graduation party where all the children received certificates. Our partners reported that this was a great time of celebrating what everyone had accomplished during the year.
To celebrate further, the students went on a trip to a beautiful lake for the day and also had a screening of ‘Finding Nemo’. The group loved the trip, especially as many of them hardly ever leave the camps.
Parents have been reporting how much the children are enjoying the schools, with one mother describing how “From early in the morning the children are waiting to go to school. They wait for their friends to come and they get ready together and go together. They go half an hour early and wait for it to begin because they love it so much. The school organisation is good which makes the teachers good, which makes the whole school good!”.
Our partners are working with the local Lebanese government with a view to ensure children can access mainstream school in the future, but currently there are still many problems for children trying to access the ‘Back to School’ system.
Many parents are frustrated as they would like to send their children to mainstream school, but living out in the camps of Bekaa Valley, cannot afford the transport. One parent explained that "Two or three years ago my children were in the public school, but they had to leave because we can’t afford transportation there. The school in the camp is close though, it’s good and it’s free. My relatives even moved to this camp so their children could go to this good school.”
One challenge for the children is regular attendance. With their families facing high poverty levels and given few opportunities to earn, there is a lot of pressure on children to work and contribute to the household income. In response, staff here are dedicated to supporting children and their parents to value and access education. An example of this is Hana’s situation, described by Kristen who works on the project.
“Hana was in one of our elementary classes. She was very bright and enjoyed learning, but she stopped coming to class because her father took her out to work in the fields. She stopped coming for a few months.
Two of our teachers saw her in camp one day when she was coming back from the fields. They told her that they missed her and wished that she would come back to class. She was shy and a little embarrassed. Her hands were dry and cracking from working in the dirt.
She went home and talked to her father about returning and he said no. Then the teachers visited her home and invited her back. A week later her parents talked with the teachers and decided she was able to come back to school! She went back to another class, and was so excited to see the teachers again. She has come almost every single day since then.”
This kind of dedication is enabling children to access a child friendly education, keeping them safe and preparing them to access the mainstream education system in the future. The success celebrated at the end of last term is a reflection of the amazing progress these children have made, many of them catching up to national standards, having had very sporadic or non existent access to education.