Unesco and Education Above All Foundation (EAA) have established a partnership for quality education in Lebanon that includes a contribution of around $10mn to rebuild or restore damaged schools and get education back on track.
“I visited shattered schools and classrooms in Beirut right after the blast. Faced with this traumatic experience of loss for students, their teachers and families, our responsibility is to restore learning as quickly as possible and to rebuild the damaged schools,” said Unesco’s assistant director general for education, Stefania Giannini.
The Beirut Port explosion on August 4 caused widespread damage and casualties. The education sector was heavily impacted, as the explosion partially or completely destroyed some 200 schools in Beirut and neighbouring areas. The extent of the damage threatens to disrupt the new academic year and deprive more than 85,000 Lebanese and non-Lebanese students of their right to education.
Against this backdrop, Unesco director-general Audrey Azoulay launched “LiBeirut” to mobilise the international community’s support for this recovery effort. Unesco Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States (Unesco Beirut), which was mandated by Lebanon’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education to lead rehabilitation efforts for educational establishments, launched a partnership with the EAA through its Educate A Child programme.
Mubarak al-Thani, communication manager and head of advocacy at EAA, said: “Since 2012, Education Above All has supported projects in Lebanon alongside partners Unicef and UNRWA to provide more than 17,600 children with access to safe, quality education so they have an opportunity to flourish in life. Today, we look forward to starting a new partnership with Unesco in Lebanon to rehabilitate educational facilities during these extremely challenging times for the country and its people.”
For Dr Hamed al-Hamami, director of the Unesco Beirut office, “This effort is one of the basic conditions for securing access to education and a key step towards ensuring the continuity of learning.”
EAA and Unesco have joined hands with support from the Qatar Fund For Development to rehabilitate 55 schools, 20 TVET centres, and three universities (American University of Beirut, Saint Joseph University - Beirut, Lebanese university) in Beirut to ensure that learning never stops and enable children and youth to realise and practise their right to education. With initial commitments in place, work has already started in around 20% of schools. These schools should reopen between November 2020 and February 2021 depending on the extent of the damage.
“As the UN agency designated to co-ordinate this rehabilitation effort, Unesco is committed to ensuring a rapid and comprehensive educational recovery. Thanks to the partnership between Education Above All Foundation and Unesco, we will ensure that students find their way back to repaired schools. This is our promise to the children and youth of Beirut,” added Giannini.