Slovak-funded school projects completed in Lebanon
With the support from the Slovak development agency, Habitat for Humanity rehabilitated and improved six schools.
Beirut/Bratislava (August 29, 2017) – Almost 3,400 students in Aley and Shouf in Lebanon are benefiting from improved school facilities at the start of this academic year in September and October. Work on renovating and expanding schools was carried out by Habitat for Humanity Lebanon. Financial support was provided through the Slovak development agency, SlovakAid.
Speaking during the dedication ceremony at the Mazraat El Shouf Official School in Lebanon, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Lebanon HE Lubomir Macko said, “Slovakia is a small country and we have limited resources but through supporting projects like this we want to show to the world that we have a big heart and want to help not only ourselves but other as well, especially those who are less fortunate”.
Popular Slovak singer and composer Juraj Zaujec took part in the dedication ceremony. He performed for the public a couple of his own songs and had a music workshop with schoolchildren at the Mazraat El Shouf school.
With the outbreak of the Syrian civil war and arrival of millions of refugees from Syria, the Lebanese school system has been overstretched. The Mazraat El Shouf school has more than 390 Syrian students. Such an influx has slowed down the school management and put pressure on the administration to expand school premises. Until recently, the school worked two shifts to accommodate all the students.
“Habitat was able to add one floor with four additional classes to the building”, said Lebanon Dani El Tayar, National Director for Habitat for Humanity Lebanon. “This means that now it can accept more students. And they can study in good conditions since we also equipped classes with tables, chairs, boards and projectors”.
Originally, Habitat Lebanon planned to support around 2,400 students who were enrolled in six schools last year. But on average, schools get a 5-10 percent annual increase of students, mostly refugee children from Syria.
Since the start of the civil was in Syria, Lebanon had to cope with the biggest amount of refugees. It is estimated that there are more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, according to UN data. About 80 percent of those are women and children, who need schooling. However, many of these children are not enrolled into Lebanese schools. Public institutions have limited places and private schools are expensive for the families.
“We understand that we need to support our schools that are trying to cope with the influx of new students. But we have no additional public funds for this work,” said Yehya Abu Karroum, mayor of Mazraat El Shouf who attended the dedication ceremony. In his works, his office has actively started to look for organizations and institutions who can support school renovations, one of them was Habitat for Humanity Lebanon.
Work on the schools in Lebanon started earlier this year and was completed during the school holidays. In a similar way, Habitat for Humanity and SlovakAid work on renovating a number of schools in neighboring Jordan.