UNESCO Beirut and Education Cannot Wait (ECW) today launched their new partnership to rehabilitate damaged schools following the 4 August 2020 Beirut explosions, at a press conference held at the Achrafiyeh 3rd Public School. The high-level press conference included the participation of the Minister of Education and Higher Education H.E. Dr. Tarek Majzoub, the Director General of Education and Higher Education Mr. Fadi Yarak, ECW Director Yasmine Sherif, and the UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut Director Dr. Hamed Al Hamami represented by Maysoun Chehab, UNESCO Beirut Regional Education Programme Coordinator.
The rehabilitation of schools comes within the Li Beirut initiative which was launched by UNESCO Director-General Ms. Audrey Azoulay during her visit to Lebanon in August 2020.
Thanks to the generous funding support of Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, 40 public and private schools damaged in the explosions will benefit from rapid rehabilitation efforts, and 94 public schools will be provided with new equipment to replace those damaged by the blasts. This emergency education response is part of UNESCO and ECW’s efforts to promote the continuity of inclusive, quality education for all children in Lebanon.
Education Cannot Wait’s support complements additional funding from Education Above All (Qatar), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), UNICEF through funding from the EU and Germany, the French Government, l’Oeuvre d’Orient, the Lebanese Red Cross and others, who also contributed generously to rehabilitate all damaged public schools and a significant number of private schools impacted by the explosions. The rehabilitation works are expected to be completed by February 2021.
“Every girl and boy in Lebanon has both the right to inclusive, quality education and the right to learn in safety. Education Cannot Wait began the process to provide emergency education funding to repair these damaged schools the day we watched in horror the television images of the explosions,” said ECW Director, Yasmine Sherif. “The immediacy of an education response is always crucial in times like this, and even more so given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which was already impacting the education of children and youth in Lebanon.
Maysoun Chehab said on behalf of Dr. Hamed Al Hamami: “The partnership between UNESCO and Education Cannot Wait aims to advance the Education 2030 Agenda and safeguard the right to education for every girl and boy in Lebanon. Through the rehabilitation of schools, we will ensure that learning never stops, and we will make sure that every student would have an equal opportunity to access learning by benefiting from school equipment that will be distributed to public schools damaged by the blast.”
In his speech, Minister Tarek Majzoub asserted that the supporting initiatives that Lebanon witnessed after cumulative crises were, for him, a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel, pointing out the fact that the ECW fund initiative is a practical program that aims to implement the long-awaited rehabilitation of public schools.
“Our will to revive the educational sector stems from our hearts’ strong determination”, he added. “The educational system is central to bringing the country back to life. If this system fails, the country will lose its backbone”.
Minister Majzoub thanked ECW Director Yasmine Sherif and the delegation for their efforts and hailed their motivation and the fund’s enthusiasm to bring back the educational sector and its institutions to the forefront as well as their relentless pursuit to attract supporters and contributors. He stressed on the fact that education cannot wait until crises are over and until the storm has passed, adding that there have been uninterrupted efforts to save the school year, with the support of friends and donors, among which the ECW, in collaboration with the UNESCO regional office.
The Minister then stressed once again on the need for electronic devices to allow the children to be truly involved in hybrid and distance learning, hoping that efforts would be crowned with success for the sake of the youth and the Lebanese people.