Children denied the chance to attend school by the brutal Syrian civil war are resuming their educations with support from an SOS Children’s Villages ‘Education in Emergencies’ programme in Lebanon.
The international children’s charity has opened a learning centre for out-of-school children and teenagers at the Bekaa refugee camp, offering access to e-learning opportunities, vocational education, digital literacy courses and career development support. SOS psychologists and social workers will also be on-hand to provide children with trauma counselling and psychosocial support.
Lebanon is home to 750,000 child refugees from Syria. Many have been unable to access full-time education since the conflict began in 2011 or were never enrolled in school. Poverty and loss of parental care have forced thousands of school-age children into child labour.
SOS Children’s Villages CEO Alison Wallace said: “Education can transform a child’s life – opening up a world of opportunities and giving them the chance to escape poverty and build themselves a better future. Without it, the risk of child exploitation such as child labour increases significantly.
“Many children at the Bekaa camp have missed out on years of their education. They are missing not just the opportunities education brings, but the joy of making friends and playing like other children do – as they used to do before they were forced from their homes by the war. The children we support have told us how desperate they feel without a safe place to play – so we are ensuring they have that chance again.”
Play is hugely important for children’s development, wellbeing and educational attainment. Recreational activities and ‘fun-learning’ are central to the programme. The learning centre includes a playground, and playgroups for pre-school children are being offered to provide support for younger children and new mothers.
The Syrian conflict has had a major impact on children and families in Lebanon, which is one of the world’s largest host country’s for refugees. One quarter of the country’s 6 million residents originally came from the neighbouring war-torn country of Syria. This has created new challenges for communities which were already struggling with limited access to education and public services.
SOS Children’s Villages is also supporting 330 at-risk Lebanese families in the Bekaa Valley area, providing them with food, social and psychological support and supplementary education. They also run a village community in nearby Ksarnaba, providing long-term family-like care for children who have lost parental support.
Find out more about our work protecting child refugees worldwide.
Notes to editors:
For media enquiries please contact Lucy Prioli at Lucy.Prioli@sosuk.org or on 01223 222 974.