It has caused a generation of innocent children to be forced from their homes, and out of schools. Millions of families have fled the war zones, and many children have not been to school since the war began in 2011.
Lebanon has the highest-ratio of refugee population of any country in the world. There are over 1 million Syrian refugees there today, making up approximately one quarter of the country’s population. Over 200,000 of these refugees are children who are not enrolled in school.
CFJ believes that this must change. That this cannot become a lost generation.
Working with private sector partners, including Google, Virgin and the Radcliffe Foundation, CFJ has partnered with a leading education provider, SABIS, to design an ambitious initiative that will provide out-of-school children in Lebanon, including Syrian refugees, a chance to go back to school.
About a third of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children who are not in school. This is a generation of children that is very unlikely to go home to Syria for many years – the average return time for refugees is 17 years.
Many Syrian refugee children are sent out to work for as little as 2 dollars per day with no hope of learning to read and write. The public school system in Lebanon is at breaking point – with schools already working double shifts. The UN, NGOs and private actors want to help – but none of the existing projects are large-scale initiatives focused on getting children back into formal education for the long term.
Without education, this lost generation becomes not only a missed opportunity for the advancement of Lebanon but also a huge security threat in the region and beyond. Giving refugee children access to education would unshackle their ability to change their lives and those of generations to come.
The Clooney Foundation has partnered with SABIS –a global education network active in 20 countries including the United States – to build pop-up schools to educate Syrian refugee children in Lebanon who are not in school, as well as other out-of-school children in Lebanon. This initiative will give young refugees and other children a chance to enter an accredited, formal educational system. We are supporting digitally-driven low-cost schools with a cadre of trained teachers that will get students on track to one day graduate from high school and enter the workforce.
SABIS was established over 130 years ago and has an established record of delivering superior education outcomes across its schools. It is headquartered in Lebanon and has vast experience educating children in the region, including children from vulnerable communities.
CFJ is also partnering with top technology companies to provide a laptop for every child’s use in school and cutting-edge technological expertise on the ground.
The goal of the project is to enroll as many children as possible who are not in school into formal education, with an initial focus on building schools in the areas with the largest refugee communities.
At CFJ-supported schools students will be taught in English using cutting-edge technology.
Self-driven learning will be supplemented by formal classes led by a trained teacher. Teachers will use an interactive whiteboard and the children will work from tablets and laptops with a pre-loaded interactive curriculum. All teaching will be in English except for Arabic language classes. This is how children are currently taught at SABIS schools in Lebanon – in English with bilingual reference materials – meaning they automatically learn English in this immersive way.
We will also develop signature courses such as Civic Engagement and Human Rights and Coding to equip the children to be empowered, open-minded citizens who embrace the digital age.
SABIS’ existing curriculum is accredited in Lebanon and designed for teaching in a digital classroom setting. Each student is assessed through a variety of digital tools that analyze whether the student has mastered the material. The student’s answers to questions in class are recorded and the teacher is shown all of the data being produced by their students through a real-time dashboard. This is an approach that is customized to each individual, measures their progress daily in the classroom and does not rely on parental support.
The regular assessments produce a large amount of data that is automatically digitally analyzed to identify gaps in the knowledge of each student. Each student who needs extra help is then put on an individual remediation plan that is automatically generated and digitally accessible to the student and the school, ensuring that gaps in learning are attended to before they become an obstacle to future learning. This model is particularly well-suited to refugee communities, where children may have been out of school for several years.
The Clooney Foundation for Justice intends to launch a pilot of this initiative in Lebanon as soon as possible. The pilot will be scaled rapidly to serve the refugee population that is currently out-of-school in Lebanon. The initiative will focus on the parts of Lebanon where the largest concentration of refugees is located and the first school will open in 2017.
CFJ is continuing to work with its partners to launch this initiative. Stay tuned for additional updates.
The Clooney Foundation for Justice has partnered with SABIS, a leading provider of education in the Middle East, in an effort to educate refugee children.
The Clooney Foundation for Justice is developing the TrialWatch project to limit the use of the courts as a tool for oppression.
The Clooney Foundation for Justice has sponsored the resettlement of Syrian and Yazidi refugees in the United States and will continue to offer support and assistance.