The Embassy of Italy in Beirut signed on Wednesday a €2 million funding agreement in support of UNICEF's school rehabilitation programme. The program, part of UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education RACE II initiative, seeks to improve the physical learning environment in public schools throughout Lebanon, with a focus on the most vulnerable communities.
The intervention supports the most-in-need Lebanese public schools and employs MEHE's standards for public school rehabilitation and safety which benefits children enrolled in all grades from KG to Grade 12. A significant component of the school rehabilitation will ensure the presence of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in schools, as well as meeting the accessibility standards that will facilitate the inclusion of children with disabilities.
"When schools are rehabilitated with enhanced construction and safety standards, children benefit from an equitable access to quality, relevant and inclusive learning and early development," said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Lebanon. "Rehabilitated facilities are improving the health and safety of children, thus improving attendance rates".
Ambassador Bombardiere stressed the importance of investing in education for the future of Lebanon's young generations. "Improving the quality of public schools environment and infrastructure grants access to quality education to a greater number of children living in Lebanon and helps them develop their human qualities in the context of the current economic and social crisis. Italy remains committed to continue on the same path, placing the person and the vulnerable people at the centre of the Italian Aid Policy and assisting the Lebanese Government in achieving its educational goals".
"Supporting the Lebanese public schools will be particularly relevant in the coming school year to ensure attendance in a time of economic hardship for families", said Donatella Procesi, Director of the Beirut office of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation. "The programs funded by the Italian Cooperation in the education sector also include the distribution of school meals and learning materials, as well as the implementation of non-formal education activities".
In line with UNICEF's equity-based approach to supporting children, the schools will be selected according to multiple criteria including vulnerable locality of the school, number of enrolled Syrian refugee students, technical survey results, MEHE's priorities and equitable representation among all Lebanese governorates.
Since 2015, Italy has supported the rehabilitation of 38 Lebanese public schools through UNICEF.