KFAS and UNESCO – Beirut Office, signed on Monday 13 February a funding agreement to increase the support for formal and informal education at the secondary level offered to 1100 Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
The signing ceremony was attended by the Kuwait Ambassador to Lebanon, Ambassador Abdel Aal al-Qinai, the Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, the Regional Director of UNESCO, Mr. Hamad Al Hammami, and Ms. Sonia Khouri representing the Lebanese Ministry of Education.
On the ceremony sidelines, Ambassador Al-Qinai reiterated to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), the importance of providing urgently needed support to young refugees who have been subjected to hardships and have lost the opportunity of education due to prevailing security conditions and the displacement of Syrian families.
He expressed his hopes for similar initiatives to continue and noted the initiative of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to support the (UNESCO) and expressed his belief that the generous pledge would contribute to easing the suffering of the Syrian people.
Ambassador Al-Qinai called on other nations to follow the example of the Kuwaiti initiative and provide more support for the Syrian refugees.
Al-Qinai said that "Kuwait is famous for its generous and sustainable contributions to Arab and other countries, a fact that triggered the United Nations to grant His Highness the Amir the title of the “Humanitarian Leader”. A title that every Kuwaiti is proud of.”
He expressed his conviction that the State of Kuwait is true to form in supporting and investing in Arab and Kuwaiti human resources especially in availing educational opportunities for future generations.
The Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, told KUNA "We signed an agreement with UNESCO to implement the Syrian refugees’ education project funded under the pledge announced by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, at the donors' conference in London, where Kuwait donated $300 million over three years. "
He pointed to KFAS’ commitment in assisting refugees of 12-22 years old age group as being the most in need of immediate intervention. He explained that the quick action targets protecting girls from early marriages, preventing young people from drifting into extremism and armed violence, and preparing Syrian young minds for their return to their homeland armed with tools and skills of science and professionalism.
Dr. Shihab-Eldin alluded to the Foundation’s agreement with the Arab Open University in Beirut and potential cohort of agreements in 2017 and 2018 with UNESCO, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other organizations.
He explained that KFAS has agreed in principle to assist in the establishment of a number of technical schools in regions with high population of refugees, such as Albeqae Valley in east Lebanon. He pointed out that further discussions are planned with Lebanese officials in this regard.
He added, "The State of Kuwait, under the leadership of the Amir, the UN Humanitarian Leader, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, will continue with full efforts to provide everything it can avail in accordance with its humanitarian duty."
He noted that Kuwait's interest in education is strategic and goes beyond its borders to include its keen interest in the progress of science and active participation in dialogue about this vital developmental aspect of modern life.
In a similar statement to KUNA, the Regional Director of UNESCO, Mr. Hamad Al Hammami, said "This is not the first collaboration between the State of Kuwait and UNESCO. Kuwait has been fully supportive of the Organization and its marks are visible, especially when the Organization suffered a financial crisis after its decision to accept the Palestinian state as a full member."
Mr. Al Hammami pointed out that projects funded by Kuwait are mostly educational and cultural projects. The current project is the third grant extended by Kuwait and it falls under UNESCO's plan to help place Syrian refugees in schools. It fits UNESCO’s current efforts to oversee the secondary technical and vocational education and training program as well as higher education programs. Additionally, UNESCO offers teacher training on skills of dealing with students in times of crisis and hardships.
The UNESCO official added that 50 percent of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon who are in need of education are not in schools. He referred to the huge burden borne by Lebanon as a consequence of hosting such a large number of refugees. He urgently called for further support.
Mr. Al Hammami relayed his recognition and appreciations to His Highness the Amir and the Kuwaiti government and the Kuwaiti people for their support to serve Mankind.
He reiterated the strong bond between the State of Kuwait and UNESCO, as Kuwait supports the organization’s programs all over the world and praised the role of KFAS and its developmental and humanitarian projects in Kuwait and abroad.
The Lebanese Ministry of Education representative, Ms. Sonia Khoury said, “Kuwait is the only country participating in the program (Strategy of education for all children in Lebanon). She indicated that there are around half a million of Syrian refugees in Lebanon who are at various educational levels. She pointed out that the ministry was able to provide around 250 thousand of them some formal education.
The signing of the agreement between UNESCO and KFAS to finance sustainability of ‘The Secondary Education project’ in the framework of the UNESCO’s educational response to the regional Syrian crisis strategy (filling the educational gaps among young people) and also in the context of the organization's efforts to provide additional funding to increase support for access to beyond basic education in Lebanon, particularly the secondary level.
It is worth mentioning that the project targets 1100 school-age Syrian youngsters to encourage them to take advantage of the educational opportunities and thus better job opportunities after graduation.
Statistics show that there are more than 482,000 Syrian children and youths between the ages of 3 and 18 years in Lebanon are illegible for schooling and no more than 3 percent of them are enrolled in some form of formal education. (End)