Education Cannot Wait Announces US$12 Million Catalytic Grant to Support Education for the Most Vulnerable Girls and Boys in Lebanon

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The grant – to be delivered in partnership with the Government of Lebanon and consortia led by Save the Children, UNESCO and UNICEF – aims to catalyze an additional US$38 Million to reach a total of 875,000 children and adolescents


31 December 2021, New York – The interconnected crises of COVID-19, climate change, economic instability, the destructive explosion in the Port of Beirut and an influx of refugees fleeing the Syria crisis are putting hundreds of thousands of children at risk in Lebanon.

In response, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the UN’s global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, announced today US$12 million in catalytic seed funding for a new Multi-Year Resilience Programme in Lebanon.

Delivered in partnership with the Government of Lebanon through broad consortia of partners – led by Save the ChildrenUNESCO and UNICEF – the three-year programme seeks to mobilize an additional US$38 million in required resources.

ECW’s seed funding grant will reach over 233,000 girls and boys, including adolescents. Of this, 67% are refugees. Fully funded, the programme will reach a total of 875,000 vulnerable school-aged girls and boys, of whom 60% are girls and 10% are living with disabilities.

“Education is key in building back better from the multiple crises affecting the people of Lebanon and ensuring a more peaceful, more prosperous society,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “The programme focuses on reaching the most vulnerable children and adolescents with the power of learning. Furthermore, it will work on building the resilience of the education sector in its widest sense, including public sector schools, non-formal education, as well as blended and online learning. We cannot afford to neglect Lebanon when these children and youth need us the most.”

“The ECW facilitated Multi-Year Resilience Programme is the first concrete initiative to support the Lebanon Five-Year Education Sector Plan to deliver quality education to every girl and boy in the country with a strong focus on the most vulnerable ones. This means that learning opportunities will be strengthened for displaced children and those marginalized because of their nationality, gender or disability. I take this opportunity to call on all donors and supporters to leverage more funding towards this strategic programme,” said HE Abbas Salem Halabi, Minister of Education and Higher Education of Lebanon.

Multiple Shocks

Public education in Lebanon has faced multiple shocks over the past decade, with a significant acceleration since 2019. Before the Syria crisis, Lebanon already provided free education to thousands of non-Lebanese students, particularly Palestinians and Iraqis displaced by conflict. A large influx of Syrian refugees has put even more children at risk of being left behind.

In late 2019, the Lebanese economy collapsed and the value of the Lebanese Pound plummeted. The economic impact on much of the population across all nationalities has been devastating.

These crises are putting pressure on public education. Enrollment in public schools is increasing for Lebanese students, who largely attended private schools before the economic collapse. Teachers’ salaries have been impacted by the devaluation and now as much as half of the population could fall below the poverty line, impacting not just education, but also health, nutrition and children’s overall well-being.

The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated these issues. Girls and children with disabilities are among the most vulnerable and analysis from Save the Children indicates higher dropout rates for adolescent girls, as well as risks of early marriage, sexual exploitation and child labor.

The Multi-Year Resilience Programme responds to these challenges with humanitarian speed and developmental depth, placing an emphasis on providing whole-of-child solutions, bringing together partners, and increasing trust and collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, implementing partners, donors and civil society.

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