On Monday, April 11, 2016, Dr. Maha Shuayb, the director of the UK-based Centre for Lebanese Studies delivered a public talk titled Bringing back hope: the status of education of the Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. A packed room on NC State University’s campus of over 80 people, Dr. Shuayb spoke for 4o minutes and devoted as much time to a lively Q&A with students and several members of the community.
Over 400,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are school age. A third of them are currently accessing a wide variety of education while the remaining have been out of education for over three years. Education is one of the main ways for these children to have a chance of resuming a normal childhood. In Lebanon, the discussion is currently focused on widening access to education, yet the quality of the current programs remains largely unexamined. The majority of students are currently taught in afternoon shifts in segregated classrooms. Students struggle with issues related to language, discrimination and overcoming trauma as well as the pressure on them to work instead of continuing their education.
Dr. Shuayb focused her talk on describing the difficult circumstances facing Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, particularly as it pertains to education. She argued that discrimination, lack of teacher training, and limited facilities are creating a crisis of high drop out rates from the schools with the great majority not going beyond the 6th grade. While the Lebanese government argues that this is because the students are not well prepared by the Syrian national curriculum, Dr. Shuayb contends that these same problems afflict Lebanese working class and impoverished children. Therefore, she noted, the problem is that the system is failing the children rather than the children failing the school. With so many children dropping out of school, and with a very limited scope for work, the question that she raised is what will happen to this lost generation.
Dr. Shuayb’s writing
2015-“Human Rights and Peace Education in the Lebanese Civics textbooks: a comparative lens,” Research in Comparative and International Education March, 10, (1).
Shuayb, M. “The Art of Inclusive Exclusions Educating Palestinian refugee students in Lebanon”, Refugee Survey Quarterly. (2014) 33 (2): 20-37. doi: 10.1093/rsq/hdu002
Rethinking Education for Social Cohesion: International case studies. Edited by M. Shuayb. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 2012.
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