World news story

UK gives 300,000 textbooks for a generation Lebanese children

An entire generation of schoolchildren in Lebanon will get a boost to their education with a new UK initiative announced today by DFID's Justine Greening.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

At school in Zahle
Minister Justine Greening in a school in Zahle in the Bekaa

An entire generation of schoolchildren in Lebanon will get a boost to their education under a new UK initiative announced today by International Development Secretary Justine Greening during a visit to Lebanon.

Ms Greening ended a one-day visit to Lebanon, where she saw the impact of the Syria crisis on refugees and host communities, as they continue to struggle to face their third winter of misery. She announced that the UK will provide up to £4 million to enable the Lebanese government to purchase over 300,000 textbook packs.

The scheme will ensure that every child aged between 6 and 15 who attends state school in Lebanon has a set of textbooks covering key academic subjects. As well as 80,000 refugee children who have fled the fighting in Syria, this will include Lebanese children from host communities who might otherwise be at risk of losing out. Over 300,000 packs of books will be distributed in total.

The Lebanese public school system is under growing pressure to find spaces for Syrian refugee children, as schools are forced to run a two-shift system where a second school day starts after normal hours to educate twice as many children. Since 80,000 refugee pupils are currently enrolled in Lebanon, every fifth child in school is a refugee.

Speaking from Lebanon’s Bekaa International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

“While children in the UK are settling back in to school after their Christmas holidays, Syrian children are facing a third winter away not only from home but school as well. These are the children who will one day rebuild Syria and we cannot afford to let them become a lost generation.

“British assistance means every child at school in Lebanon will have their own set of books covering key subjects like maths and sciences. Lebanon has opened its doors to more than 860,000 of its neighbours and we want to help both Syrian and Lebanese children carry on going to school despite the huge strain on resources.”

The new announcement comes the day before a major UN humanitarian pledging conference for Syria, which will take place in Kuwait tomorrow, 15 January. It aims to generate significant new funding pledges from the international community to help provide aid inside Syria and across the region.

Whilst in Lebanon, the International Development Secretary visited an informal settlement hosted by Save the Children Lebanon, UNHCR registration centre and a Lebanese public school supported by UNICEF. She was accompanied by UNHCR’s representative in Lebanon, Ninette Kelley, Save the Children Lebanon’s Country Director, Sonia Zambakides and UNICEF country representative Annamaria Laurini. Ms Greening also met with Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam where she reiterated the UK’s continued commitment to supporting Lebanon as it responds to the ongoing Syrian crisis. Further information

  • Follow Justine Greening on Twitter: @JustineGreening
  • Follow UK in Lebanon on Twitter: @UKinlebnanon
  • Follow Tom Fletcher on Twitter: @HMATomFletcher
  • Find out more what DFID is doing for refugees http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gJ3vpd7grY

Notes to Editors

  1. Each pack will include textbooks covering science, literature, languages, mathematics and other core subjects, with each pack tailored to the needs of pupils in the relevant school year. These will be published in a mix of English, French and Arabic as per the Lebanese curriculum.
  2. The UK will provide up to £4 million to enable the Lebanese government to purchase 307,000 textbook packs. 300,000 Lebanese children between the ages of 6 and 15 are already enrolled in school, along with 33,000 Syrian refugees, a further 7,000
  3. Palestinian refugees from Syria and an additional 40,000 Syrian refugee children to be covered by the second shift system. In total, schools in Lebanon are attempting to accommodate an additional 80,000 children as a result of the Syria crisis.
  4. The UK has committed £500 million to help those affected by the conflict in Syria. This is the UK’s largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis. It is providing support including food, medical care, shelter and relief items for over a million people including those affected by the fighting in Syria and refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
Published 14 January 2014