Syrian refugee children in Lebanon face barriers to education

Syrian refugee children attend a class in Chekka, northern Lebanon, July 29, 2013. An estimated million Syrians, including refugees, labourers and their families, currently live in Lebanon, twice the number that were here in April. Lebanon, a small and fragile Mediterranean state of 4 million people, is struggling with the burden of such a large and rapid influx. Picture taken July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir (LEBANON - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST SOCIETY) - RTX128EY

Multiple obstacles are keeping Syrian refugee children in Lebanon out of school despite the efforts of the UN refugee agency and the Lebanese government to integrate them into the country’s educational system.

Of the Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Lebanon, nearly 500,000 are between the ages of 3 and 18, considered school-aged by Lebanon’s Education Ministry. However, only about 150,000 of these children have enrolled in public schools for the 2015-16 school year, according to the ministry, underlining concerns about an entire generation of Syrian children who are growing up without education.

Although Lebanon, which hosts 1.1 million registered Syrian refugees, has allowed Syrian children to enroll for free in public schools, Lebanese policies on residency and work for Syrians are keeping children out of the classroom.

More than 90 percent of the Syrian refugee families are in debt, which has left the parents with no choice but to send their children to work, said Lisa Abou Khaled, the public information officer for UNHCR Lebanon.