Lebanon. "I can read, I can write": the impact of inclusive education for refugee youth
04-06-2024 | di COOPI

Lebanon. "I can read, I can write": the impact of inclusive education for refugee youth

In Lebanon, where thousands have sought refuge from the devastating conflict in Syria, the need for educational support is critical. Indeed, economic instability and political turmoil have worrying repercussions on the education of both Lebanese youth and refugees:according to the Lebanese Response Plan,  26% of households have children not attending school.

In this context, COOPI - Cooperazione Internazionale, thanks to funding from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), conducted the project “Supporting Quality Inclusive Education and Improving Protection to Vulnerable Lebanese and Refugee Girls and Children in North Lebanon”, which began in December 2022 and ended on May 7, 2024. The project aimed to ensure that every child, regardless of background, has access to quality education and improved social services. The goal was to increase children's attendance and participation and their safety.

Sarah, 14, learned to read and write

Recognizing the fundamental importance of literacy and numeracy as foundational skills, COOPI together with its local partner Renee Mouawad Foundation (RMF) have initiated a program dedicated to empowering Syrian refugees with essential knowledge.464 girls and boys were assisted to fill their educational gaps and were put in the necessary conditions to succeed academically and beyond. The Activity concluded with notable successes, one of which 87% of students showed improvement in their academic performance. The activity also focused on children’s well-being through Focused Psychosocial Support sessions throughout the entire implementation phase.

Sarah (fake name) a 14-year-old Syrian girl, arrived to Lebanon in 2014 from Hama-Syria, with her parents, two brothers and two sisters. Making them a part of the around 100,000 Syrian people living in Akkar governorate.

Sarah and her family are living in a refugee camp in Sahel Menyara-Akkar. An area with limited access to basic services, where girls are exposed to child labor and early marriage: according to a study done by UNHCR in 2024, 25% of Syrian girls are married before they turn 18.

Sarah faced numerous obstacles that prevented her from accessing education, such as a lack of educational services in her area, financial constraints, and the pressure to work. Despite the challenges, Sarah found refuge in the “Shining in Peace”  community center in Akkar, where COOPI, through its local partner RMF implemented Basic, Literacy and Numeric courses.  Sarah was determined to learn, repeatedly telling her teacher that she wanted to learn how to read and write to prove her capabilities. With her dedication and the assistance of the educational team inside the center, Sarah made significant academic progress during the first cycle, her continued enrollment in the second cycle was unquestioned. By the end of the second cycle, Sarah had successfully learned how to read and write.


Now, everything is different. I can read, I can write and share my dreams. This has given me a voice and a sense of belonging. I feel hopeful about my future.” 

Sami, 10, more motivated and confident, improves in school

COOPI together with Renee Mouawad Foundation (RMF) also tailored the School Support activity aimed at improving the quality of education and helping the most vulnerable children, those most at risk of dropping out and failing at school, to access, retain and succeed in the formal education system. The primary objective was to enhance students’ performance and achieve an attendance rate of more than 60%. The fact that 90% of girls and boys involved in this project, have committed to attending school on a daily basis and 84.35% of children showed improvement in their academic performance, underscored the success of the program. The activity also aimed at restoring children’s self-confidence, enhancing their creativity and fostering their ability and will to learn through Social Emotional Learning sessions.

Sami (fake name) is a fifth-grade student at Zaaroura Public School in Akkar Governorate. Since the onset of multiple crises, which have significantly increased living expenses, especially school costs, children have struggled to maintain regular school attendance, leaving them vulnerable to various forms of abuse and exploitation. This struggle has also impacted Sami's academic performance and overall well-being. He mostly struggled with the math subject and often gave up easily. He got a six out of twenty on his final exam. However; After the support received from  the retention support cycle and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) sessions, Sami learned to break down tasks into smaller steps, manage his time effectively and believe in his abilities. He’s now passing math fluently, Sami’s math grade increased now to thirteen out of twenty. He used to feel overwhelmed by school work and stressed about deadlines.

Sami said:

The school support helped me stay organized and the Social Emotional Learning sessions taught me how to manage my emotions and focus on my goals, I feel more confident and motivated now”. 

COOPI-Cooperazione Internazionale has been active in Lebanon since 2013 alongside Syrian refugees and host communities, especially women and children. COOPI's activities are aimed at child protection, improving sanitation and the socio-economic situation of the population.