Education |

Cash aid helps Syrians attend Lebanon schools

By Nohad Topalian in Beirut

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Syrian refugee children on their way to school in 2017 using the school bus service provided by Caritas and supported by UNICEF. [Hedinn Halldorsson/UNICEF]

To encourage Syrian refugee families to educate their children, UNICEF has launched a new cash aid programme, in co-operation with Caritas and the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Learning.

The programme provides monthly cash aid of at least $20 for every child registered in the afternoon school session.

Launched in early January, the financial aid initiative replaces the school bus programme, which in past years transported thousands of Syrian children to afternoon school sessions at 360 public schools throughout Lebanon.

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A Syrian refugee mother and her children receive their common card from UNICEF through which cash-based assistance is transferred. [Stephen Gerard Kelly/UNICEF]

The new programme is designed to encourage vulnerable families to keep their children in school, UNICEF said in a January 5th statement.

"Receiving $20 for each one of my children will help me keep them in school and buy what they need," said Fatima Mohammed Ibrahim of rural Homs, who now lives with her five children in al-Shaar in the Metn district of Mount Lebanon.

Supporting school enrollment

UNICEF and Caritas contracted with local companies to provide school buses to transport vulnerable children to schools during the 2016-2017 school year, said Katya Marino, who heads UNICEF's Education Division.

This programme was replaced in January with the cash assistance initiative, which is similarly designed to support school enrollment, she told Al-Mashareq.

"The money helps families pay for transportation to send their children to school, while leaving the parents free to choose the best means of transportation," she said.

They are no longer obligated to use the contracted buses, as in previous years.

"It is important to continue to help children reach their schools safely, especially [those attending] the afternoon session, because they return home in the dark in unlit streets and in cold weather in winter," she said.

Helping refugee children attend school "enables them to stay off the street and protects them from the possibility of being exploited or the danger of falling into crime or begging", she said.

In addition to helping refugees, the financial support also focuses on at-risk Lebanese children who are enrolled in the afternoon session, she said, including those who are very young, have a disability or live in unsafe areas.

Some of these students face daily challenges in getting to school, she said, especially those who live far away.

UNICEF's priority "is to help vulnerable families provide their children with an education and attend school on a regular basis", she said.

The transfer of cash aid to parents was instituted "to help them make better decisions in regard to their children and take a direct part in their education", she said, which includes transporting them to and from school.

"About half of the Syrian students registered in the afternoon session receive financial support funded by several international donors," Marino noted.

Ensuring regular education

Caritas Lebanon director Father Paul Karam said his organisation has been working in co-operation with UNICEF since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2013 "to ensure regular education for refugee and most marginalised Lebanese children".

Caritas continues to encourage Syrian parents to send their children to school, and to distribute school supplies and stationery to all public schools for both the morning and afternoon sessions, he said.

"Caritas also transports afternoon session students to and from public schools in all areas of the south, Nabatiyeh and the Bekaa, including Baalbek and Hermel, as well as Beirut and Tripoli, benefitting 57,087 Syrian children," he said.

The cash aid programme also has been rolled out in Akkar and Mount Lebanon, where 48,686 children received cash aid of $20 per child (ages 6 to 9), and $65 (ages 10 to 14), during the 2016-2017 school year, he added.

Programme beneficiaries are identified using various criteria, Karam said, and include "the condition that the student must be enrolled in the afternoon session classes, or enrolled in pre-school or kindergarten".

The monthly cash aid programme also includes students with special needs, students living in unsafe areas, those who are unable to reach school safely and those who take a long time to reach school on foot, he said.

Cash transfers are made to qualified families via the "red card" used by all UN agencies, he explained.

Granting cash aid to the parents, who are responsible for educating their children, "will enable them to become more involved in their education", he said.

Karam said parents will have to decide how best to use the funds they receive, depending on what might present an obstacle to their children's school attendance.

This could include transportation or any other requirement such as stationery, clothing or snacks, he said.

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I have four children in official school in Barish. I haven’t received any financial assistance from anyone. I pay a rent of 1500000 every month. Please help me financially. Thank you. I’m registered with the UN. Thanks.

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My name is Ayman Moussa. I have two children at school. I haven’t received any messages. I’m a disabled person.

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I have two kids at school. I’ve been placing my children at the afternoon school for 3 years. They haven’t given me any rent, and I haven’t seen anything. My situation is tough. Please help.

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I have 6 children, but you aren’t helping me with school, rent, transportation or winter assistance which children receive every year. Please, cooperate with us because our condition is very bad.

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We’re registered with the UN and have children at school, but we aren’t benefiting from anything.

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Where's assistance [gibberish] on the basis that each student is $20? We haven't seen a single penny. Those who have money will take, but the poor will have to depend on themselves. This is because those who have money [gibberish]. The poor will have to beg. I spit on these times we're now living in.

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These are all lies. Nobody has helped us, and we've complained a thousand times, but in vain. Enough with deception! Fear God!

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This is a lie; you aren't giving anything, not even a lira! Liars!

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I'm a Syrian refugee. I live in Beirut. I have three children who go to evening school. I haven't received any financial assistance. We're paying the rent out of our own money.

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I have my children enrolled at school, but I haven't received any assistance from the UNICEF.

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I want to register with the UN online. Please help.

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I haven't received any assistance although I urgently need it.

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I'm Syrian. I have residency in Lebanon. I have serious psychological disorders and I have medical reports that prove it. I want to receive treatment in the Netherlands and to seek asylum there. I have a degree in commerce and economy from Hama University. I also have a degree in English. I can't live in Lebanon. I came here because I'm required to perform the obligatory military service in Syria, but I hate killing, blood and wars. I can't receive treatment or find a job here because I'm sick and I have medical reports that prove it. I want to schedule an interview to submit my application to you, and my certificates, passport, residency, identity, medical reports are ready. I also suffer from physical diseases because of my psychological conditions. My situation is tough, and I suffer a lot because my condition needs money for treatment and I can't afford that money. Please accept my application and schedule an interview for me to prove my case. The situation in Syria is tough, and life there has become impossible. I'm not exaggerating here. Thank you! I wish you all the best.

REPLY

I have six children. They didn't accept my youngest daughter in school. My eldest daughter is 18 years old, and my oldest son is 14 years old, but he quit school. I have two sons who go to evening school. The bus transportation cost per student is 40,000, and you're giving us 20,000 per student. This means we can't afford the cost. I don't have a job, and I haven't paid the rent for 7 months.

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I'm in Nabatieh. I have four children at Choukine School. We live at Kfar Remen. We're not receiving any transportation assistance for my kids. Please note that we pay 40,000 Lebanese liras per child to the bus to take them to school. I'm thinking about removing my kids from school because I can no longer afford it.

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My daughter is at school. I haven't so far received any assistance, and they haven't done anything for me.

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Hello. I have four children and my wife. We want to go to Canada to live in peace and provide education for my children. Here's my phone number:. We're registered with the UN. We've had enough here in Lebanon and can no longer bear it. Our tent can't protect us from the rain, and our situation is very tough. What can I say? I complain to God alone. We're staying at a tent in Beqaa, and I don't know what to do. We can no longer endure it. Hope generous people will get my message across when they see it, and I'd be truly grateful, and may God reward you. This is just for the children. I'm sick. Please help me. Here's my file number:. I'm from Syria's Idlib. We've escaped from the war and death to Lebanon where it's safe. Thanks. I can work in many fields, including agriculture, restaurants, and floors. Thanks to the government of Canada and the great people of Canada for this humanitarian act.

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I'm Syrian. I'm married and have one son and one daughter. My daughter is suffering from a heart problem, but I can't take her to a doctor because I can't afford it. I'm not receiving any assistance from the UN, neither food, winter, nor cash assistance. Our situation is tough. We have debts of 2 million. I have been unable to afford my expenses for three years. I can barely survive with my kids. Hope the UN will help us. Thanks.

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I'm Wael Hussein al-Azw. I'm a Syrian refugee in Lebanon. We left our country when the war broke out for many reasons, the most important of which is that our home was destroyed, our children were afraid, and there were no resources. We resorted to Lebanon seeking protection and safety for our children. However, I didn't get what I wanted. I can further explain to you by meeting with your or calling you. Another reason in dozens of reason is that my wife died and left behind four motherless children. I tried every approach, including the Commission, organisations and associations, but to no avail. I didn't find a single humanitarian response. All that I want is to ensure a secure and shining future for my children so they can have their own share in this life like all other children around the world. I only have you left, and I'm waiting for you to look at my situation and help me in any way. Please don't disappoint me, like others did to me. In the name of humanity, and for the sake of my motherless children (Don't oppress the orphan), please help me. Thanks a lot. If there is any reaction from you, please respond so my heart can be assured.

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Excuse me, I have three children who go to school in the evening and I haven't received any assistance with transportation.

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Peace be upon you! I have daughters who go to Jal el-Dib school. However, we haven't received any financial assistance for them.

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I'm Syrian. I have four children who go to Kamid al-Lawz school in West Beqaa. We haven't received any assistance with covering the cost of transportation. That was why my children had to quit school because of our living conditions. Please help us with transportation cost so my children can go to school. 0096176069084

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Peace be upon you! We thank you for your interest. However, last month, the driver took the monthly fare although the children go to school just four days because of the driver strike. The other thing is that the driver wants to take US$ 20, although the school is just 1 kilometre away, and we used to pay him just 20,000.

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I’ve tried every approach and begged the school directress to accept my son in school (Kfar Dibiane Public School). She told me they haven’t received a decision from the ministry yet. These are all lies and marginalization of our children. May God relieve us!

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I have children who go to school. Nobody has given me any compensation. I’ve heard that some have received, but this is not confirmed.

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