Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, more than 3 million refugees have fled to the neighbouring countries Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. According to the last regional response plan, it is estimated that the number of Syrian refugees in need of assistance across the region reached 3.45 million by the end of 2013. In Lebanon, the number of Syrian refugees has soared to over a million. 630,000 of them are between 3 and 18 years old. Syrian refugee children face a number of barriers in trying to access the educational system in Lebanon. The language of instruction poses difficulties for Syrians in coping with host country curricula: the Syrian national curriculum is solely in Arabic, whereas the Lebanese system includes English and French both as subjects and as languages of instruction for maths and science. The impact of all of these conditions on students’ education retention and opportunities to continue higher education is yet to be seen.
This talk will focus on access and quality of education offered to Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. The initial findings of the ongoing study of public, private and UNRWA schools that have Syrian students have highlighted numerous challenges facing Syrian children including discrimination, violence, acculturation and lack of support in the classroom. With the increase of the scale of the crisis, and hostilities toward the Syrian refugees, the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education has already started to adopt an exclusory approach to the education of refugees by banning new Syrian children from registering in public schools, whilst putting pressure on UN agencies to sponsor afternoon school shifts for Syrian students only.
About the speaker: Maha Shuayb is the director of the Centre for Lebanese Studies (CLS). She is also a visiting fellow at the Faculty of Education at the University of Oxford and the president of the Lebanese Association for History. Maha joined CLS in 2008 as a senior research fellow at St Antony’s. In 2012, Maha became the director of the Centre. Maha has a BSc in Sociology from the Lebanese University and a PhD degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. She has been a visiting scholar at various universities including the University of Cambridge and the American University of Beirut. Maha’s research focuses on the sociology and politics of education. Her research areas include education and social cohesion, refugee education, citizenship education and history education. Her most recent publications are: Rethinking Education for Social Cohesion: International Case Studies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and 'The art of inclusive exclusions: educating Palestinian refugee students in Lebanon' (Refugee Survey Quarterly, forthcoming).