In the north of Lebanon, the SDC is rehabilitating several schools to allow them to accommodate Syrian children who have fled the war and crossed the border with their parents. Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) specialists are involved in the planning and management of the rehabilitation works under the supervision of the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
28 schools already rehabilitated
The SDC has already completed the rehabilitation of 28 schools in the Akkar region. Water and sanitation systems have been restored. The project also involves the waterproofing and repainting of buildings, refitting of doors and windows and the repair of electrical equipment and sanitary facilities.
"Thanks to the project, the school is now better adapted to the children's needs", said the head teacher of the Beit Ayoub school, Khaled Omar, "the pupils and teachers realise that hygiene and the learning environment have improved: the water is clean, so are the toilets, and the classrooms are no longer damp".
Adnan Kornoz, the principal of Fneidek secondary school, is also pleased with the new sanitation facilities, "it's the first time we've had enough toilets for all of the pupils: 14 for 400 children. And our school now has separate toilets for boys and girls. In our culture, it's an essential factor. It encourages parents to send their girls to school."
The SDC has also funded new furniture for the schools to allow them to accommodate pupils from Syria. In total, some 3,500 Lebanese and Syrian pupils are benefiting from improved school infrastructures.
In response to the continuous influx of Syrian refugees to the Akkar district, the SDC has decided to extend its commitment to the region's schools. New works began on 24 other schools. By 2018, 6,200 more pupils will enjoy renovated school buildings – including 2,200 Syrian children.
Preventing a "lost generation"
The school situation is particularly critical in the Akkar district, which is also one of the poorest regions in Lebanon. Half of the Syrian refugees are children. The rehabilitation of schools is intended to prevent these young Syrians becoming a "lost generation". The SDC's commitment is also helping to defuse potential tensions between local communities and the refugees by allowing Lebanese and Syrian children to develop together.