UNESCO mobilizes support, partnerships and resources for Lebanon’s five-year education plan


UNESCO education officials and Lebanese Minister of Education and Higher Education Abbas Halabi today held a meeting with high-level representatives of UNESCO Member States at headquarters of UNESCO in Paris, on the sidelines of the 41st session of the General Conference. The meeting aimed to mobilize international partnerships and resources, as well as technical and institutional support for the achievement of the Five-Year General Education Plan for Lebanon (5YP), and as an integral part of the flagship initiative of the ‘UNESCO Li Beirut. A letter of intent was signed at the end of the event by UNESCO and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, to confirm UNESCO’s additional support to 5YP, through expertise in ‘technical assistance and specialized support for the effective implementation of several key components of 5YP. .

The 5YP was developed by the Ministry of Education with the specialized expertise of the UNESCO Beirut Office and the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning. It was launched by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education of Lebanon in August 2021, during the visit of UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Stefania Giannini. This is the first nationwide education sector plan for Lebanon and will support a more resilient education system through coordinated action around strategic goals and critical reforms. The plan focuses on the public sector while seeking synergies with the private school sector, on opportunities to improve access and learning outcomes, and on providing a framework for public-private initiatives that bring innovation to the delivery of educational services. In the signed letter of intent, UNESCO pledged to provide additional specialist support to the 5YP, through technical assistance aimed at ensuring high quality coordination, aid harmonization, reporting progress, monitoring and evaluation. He also indicated that UNESCO has made basic resources available to respond to the tasks at hand and has started the recruitment of experts in full coordination with the Ministry and will continue to extend its support.

In his speech, Minister Abbas Halabi said “with 5YP we are moving from a crisis response mode to medium and long term interventions”. He cited the pandemic, the Syrian refugee crisis and the explosions in the port of Beirut as an ongoing crisis that has affected the education sector in Lebanon, thanking UNESCO for its role in rehabilitating more than 100 schools under Li Beirut. He explained: “Our 5YP is the bearer of an inclusive global approach, the preservation of the quality of education in the public and private sectors but also the sustainability of current economic models, while remaining aware of the evolutions for the preservation of quality multilingualism. . This plan will offer equal opportunities to all children residing in Lebanese territory to access a quality education, and will take full account of marginalized or vulnerable populations, migrant students or students in need.

“We are in the process of developing a similar plan for higher education with the support of UNESCO,” he added, “but I am well aware that the action of the ministry is largely dependent on the technical implication. and financial support of all donors and that their support to the school sector is essential and decisive in the process of national reconstruction. The preservation and development of our national education system, as well as the future of all our children, are my top priorities, hence the importance of UNESCO’s coordinating role ”.

Addressing the participants, UNESCO ADG for Education Stefania Giannini recalled that “there is a real risk of a learning disaster in Lebanon; vulnerable children and young people may never return to school ”. “As an international community, we cannot let this happen,” she said. We urgently need to work together to get the Lebanese education system back on track by protecting and increasing funding for the sector. The country needs a medium and long term strategy that prioritizes education as a driver of sustainable development. With the 5YP, we have a well-designed, realistic and comprehensive strategy to meet the needs of children and youth in Lebanon. The presence of an inclusive, sector-wide education response plan led and owned by the government and endorsed by all key partners is the only solution to effectively address the complexity of the current crisis.

Special guest of the event, Nasser Faqih representing Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, stressed that “Lebanon needs the world’s attention”. “It is a country that hosts the highest number of refugees per capita and invests in the education of both refugees and marginalized children, while facing multiple crises on its own,” he said. declared. This 5YP provides a roadmap and an incentive to the international community to concretely help children and young people on the soils of Lebanon to access quality lifelong education, which is a fundamental requirement for Lebanon to remain strong, to rebuild its to come up. This is an opportunity to show international solidarity. If not now when? ”

In her remarks, Costanza Farina, Director of the UNESCO Beirut Office, described the 5YP as “the first concrete achievement of Li Beirut’s new strategic approach,” which was presented on October 29 at a meeting of information at UNESCO Headquarters, and where the actual results of the initiative have been reported and its vision for the future. Farina said that “UNESCO has been privileged to have supported the development of 5YP”.

The session included a presentation of the plan by Fadi Yarak, Director General of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, and remarks from representatives of member states.

Lebanon has reacted to major shocks, notably the Syrian crisis, which brought more than 1.2 million Syrians displaced into the country between 2011 and 2015. This was followed by socio-economic instability from 2019, coupled with the COVID 19 pandemic. The devastating impact of the explosions at the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020 added an additional negative dimension to the very precarious situation. As a result, the level of poverty and the degree of vulnerability of Lebanese, displaced and refugee communities have increased. A growing proportion of children living in Lebanon are at risk of losing or never realizing their right to access quality education.

Li Beirut is a flagship international initiative launched from Beirut by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, in the aftermath of the explosions, on August 27, 2020, to support the rehabilitation of schools, historic heritage buildings, museums, galleries and the creative industry, all of which suffered significant damage in the deadly explosions.

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