Lebanon is hosting more than one million Syrian refugees, and many classrooms have more Syrian children than Lebanese children. The classes were so overwhelming for teachers that the government needed to find a solution. “They said ‘Okay, we’ll have a second shift, an afternoon shift with the Syrian refugee children using the same schools, the same desk, the same everything as the public schools,’” Dieleman said.
It turns out that having two school days causes more problems than it fixes. Dieleman said teachers were more stressed out from spending so much time at school and there were problems translating curriculum materials from English, the language used for Lebanese education, to Arabic, which was easier for the Syrian children to understand. Overall, the Syrian children are receiving a lower quality education than their Lebanese companions.
By far the biggest issue is segregation and separation. By separating the classes based on ethnicity, schools create rifts between the children and add to the tension the nation is already feeling. The separation contributes to a belief many Lebanese citizens hold that there is no need to associate with refugees because they are “temporary guests”. In separate schools, each group refused to associate with the other because “they’re dirty,” Dieleman said. The rifts are even spreading to parents and other family members.
“There needs to be more integration in terms of the ways in which Syrian children integrate socially, integrate academically, and so on with the Lebanese population,” Dieleman said. “Otherwise there will be a separation and a growing resentment that Syrians need to get out of their country.”
And then the whole issue of refugee children coming out of the situation of severe war trauma has not been addressed.
- For funding for schools and material to help take care of the educational needs of refugee children.
- For Christian NGOs to help with teachers.
- For Christians with the necessary skills to help the tens of thousands traumatized refugee children.