03.11.2017 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

Launching of UNESCO’s Strategic Framework for Education in Emergencies in the Arab Region (2018-2021)

On 2 November 2017, UNESCO Beirut held a side-event at UNESCO Paris at the margin on the 39th session of UNESCO’s General Conference, to launch UNESCO’s Strategic Framework for Education in Emergencies in the Arab Region (2018-2021).

As Education has been deeply affected by the scale of crisis in the Arab Region, with over 13 million children and youth not going to school due to conflict, UNESCO’s Strategic Framework for Education in Emergencies in the Arab Region (2018-2012) aims to respond to the Education crisis in the region through supporting Member States in meeting their educational needs, and helping them meet the commitments set out in SDG4 which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. The Strategic Framework, jointly elaborated by UNESCO field offices in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and Palestine, aims to increase access to quality learning opportunities for children and youth, to empower them with values, knowledge and skills for life and work, to support teachers and enhance the resilience of education systems.

The Strategic Framework consists of four strategic goals anchored in the three pillars of education: Access, Quality and System Strengthening. DG Irina Bokova, Ministers of Education from Arab Member States, and permanent delegations at UNESCO attended the event. In his opening remarks, Mr Hamed Al Hammami, Director of UNESCO Beirut, explained the process leading up to the elaboration of UNESCO’s Strategic Framework for Education in Emergencies (EiE) in the Arab region: “Since the beginning of the crisis, our offices in Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon have taken an active part, at the national level, to respond to educational needs created by the Syria crisis. UNESCO then intensified efforts to address urgent educational needs in order to strengthen the resilience of education systems so that Member States are able to respond better with durable solutions to the Syria crisis. Bridging Learning Gaps for Youth was the result of this process. This regional strategy, established in 2014 and reviewed in 2016, builds on the Organization’s expertise in professional and institutional capacity development, in educational planning, management and reform and provides a regionally coherent, nationally responsive education programme” .

He stated: “Drawing from UNESCO’s comparative advantage and capitalizing on experience and achievements from our Syria crisis, our EiE framework hopes to support Member States to increase access to quality learning opportunities for children and youth, to empower them with values, knowledge and skills for life and work, to support teachers and enhance the resilience of education systems – in short - to meet their educational needs in times of crisis, while they strive to make headway on the targets and commitments in SDG 4, focusing on inclusion of the most vulnerable”.

In her speech, Mrs Bokova highlighted the importance of Education for building peace in the region: “More resources for education means less for war. An educated people is a peaceful people”. Mrs Bokova emphasized the impact of crisis on Education in Arab States: “Today, we see the one of the largest humanitarian crises of our times unfolding tragically in front of our eyes. The crisis in Syria, now in its 7th year, continues to plague the country and affect the region, exacerbated by ongoing conflicts in Yemen, Libya, and Iraq. The figures are telling: 1.73 million children in Syria are out of school; 3.3 million children in Yemen are out of school; 3.3 million youth and children in Iraq are in need of education assistance; 558 schools in Libya have been damaged, destroyed or used for sheltering displaced persons or the military; 74 percent of targeted youth from Syria in host countries do not access TVET and Higher Education”.

Mrs Bokova called for action, stating that : “In situations of protracted crisis, as in the Arab Region, short-term relief is simply not enough. We need long-term solutions, to give children and youth a sense of hope in the future, and competences to rebuild their lives. Because children do not always remain in schools or continue their learning at secondary and higher education levels. Because youth are not given adequate opportunities to develop skills to find suitable jobs. (…) Because the quality of learning is compromised due to overcrowded classrooms and psychological distress…and because education systems are under severe strain to continue to deliver quality education services”.

Mrs Bokova highlighted the value and importance of UNESCO’s Strategic Framework as an instrument to help Arab States cope with the crisis through ensuring continuous access to education, quality education, and through building resilient education systems.

Representatives of Ministries of Education in Arab Member States took the floor to explain the importance and value of the partnership with UNESCO.

Mr Fadi Yarak, representative of Lebanon’s Ministry of Higher Education, said : “The most vulnerable people, and those who are directly affected by the ongoing crisis, are the children. We work with UNESCO to provide children and youth with opportunities to pursue their education, thus helping them succeed in their future life”.

Mr Hezwan Al Awaz, Syria’s Minister of Education thanked UNESCO “for the valuable help and assistance they provided in terms of helping the Syrian Education system cope with the crisis and become resilient to future crises”.

Mr Nilse Ryman, deputy director of UNRWA Amman, stated : “Our partnership with UNESCO is crucial. On behalf of our Commissioner General, I would like to seize this opportunity to convey our sincere appreciation and thanks for the sustained and steadfast support that we received from UNESCO”.

During the event, two videos were showcased: one presenting UNESCO’s field offices response to the Education crisis in the Arab region, and one presenting the UNRWA-UNESCO partnership and its key achievements.




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