On 27 November 2018, UNESCO Beirut organized the Arab Regional Launch of the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report on Migration, Displacement and Education, at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MeHe) in Lebanon, in presence of high-level personalities and education experts.
The 2019 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, entitled ‘Building bridges, not walls’, was launched globally on 20 November 2018. Focusing on the theme of Migration, Displacement and Education, the report analyses policies towards refugees and migrants around the world, and presents evidence on the scale and characteristics of different types of migration and displacement and their implications for education systems, reflecting the voices and experiences of displaced and host communities. The report praises countries in Western Asia, such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, where almost a third of the world’s refugees are hosted, for their inclusive education policies towards Syrian refugees. With the help of case studies, the report shows what works and what could be scaled up in terms of integrating migrants into the education system, serving as an evidence-based tool for practitioners. It makes the case for investing in education of good quality in emergencies, and examines the impact that education can have on addressing the challenges and opportunities posed by migration and displacement.
The Arab Regional Launch of the report was organized under the patronage of the Minister of Education, Mr Marwan Hamadeh, and was attended by a large number of participants including: Mr Fadi Yarak, Director General of MeHE; Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator; Dr. Hamed Al Hammami, Director of UNESCO Beirut; Ms. Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait (ECW); Mr. Manos Antoninis, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report; as well as experts, teachers, and civil society activists.
In his welcome remarks, Dr Al Hammami congratulated Lebanon as it is one of eight countries mentioned as a global pioneer for its inclusive policies towards migrants or refugees in the GEM report. Al Hammami said: “Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030 cannot be achieved without meeting the needs of the most vulnerable populations in times of crisis. Educating migrant children is also essential to meet SDG 4, and more broadly to achieve economic and social benefits such as improved livelihoods, better health outcomes, reductions in gender inequities and enhanced political participation”. He continued: “ In the face of tragedy and loss, education does have great power to transform societies, create peaceful communities, provide stability, and security, and overall provide a better quality of life. Large and unexpected population movements can disrupt education systems and create tensions in host communities. To combat this, a combination of forward-planning and contingency funding is needed. It is a collective responsibility, and investing in education for those on the move should no longer be optional”.
In his speech, Mr Lazzarini praised Lebanon for “the major efforts that have been made to ensure education for all”, noting that “the Ministry of Education has implemented an ambitious plan to enroll refugee students in the education system”. He stated that : “Addressing root causes impeding children to enjoy their right to education should be on top of our priorities”. Mr Lazzarini called for donors to invest more in education in order to close the funding gap.
Mr Fadi Yarak reinterated Lebanon's commitment to achieve SDG4 and ensure education for all. He emphasized that Lebanon has designed and implemented, since 2009, an ambitious plan to provide education for Lebanese citizens in emergency situations, like natural disasters, earthquakes, and various types of crises. Mr Yarak highlighted that: "With the intensification of the war in Syria, Lebanon has received thousands of families fleeing Syria. Lebanon's response was considered as a model, as we witnessed in our meetings in New York with the World Bank, in London, Brussels and Paris, and in the various conferences, meetings and workshops we attended, and this is despite the damage and pressures on the education sector". He stated: "We are committed to continue to develop our educational system and to improve the quality of education we provide for the displaced. But Lebanon, which suffers from an acute political and economic crisis, raises its voice and calls for adequate funding from donors to be able to sustain its efforts to integrate displaced and refugee students in the education system".
In her keynote speech, Ms Yasmine Sherif said: “Quality education for children and youth in crisis is a human right. It is about young people who have lost everything through wars and natural disasters. We cannot deny them their very last hope: a chance to heal their wounds, restore their dignity and tap into their resilience to overcome their past and achieve their potential. They have suffered so much. Can there be a more compelling investment? We can translate their right to education into reality with action-oriented and empathetic leadership, generous financing, evidence based data and creative, human-centered solutions. It is not enough to be human. We also have to be humane.”
Then, Mr Manos Antoninis presented the main findings of the report, stressing that: “At last exclusionary practices are being abandoned, whether due to political pragmatism or international solidarity Stronger national efforts are still needed though to make the leap to fully inclusive refugee education, for children of all ages and all nationalities.”
The opening ceremony was followed by the showcasing of a video about the GEM report, and two panel discussions around the theme “Towards more effective financing for education in emergencies”.
The first panel, moderated by Dr. Caroline Pontefract, Director of Education at UNRWA and titled “Domestic and External Financing”, looked at the domestic and external efforts in the Arab Region to address the education-financing gap during emergencies. It included interventions from Mr Fadi Yarak; Dr. Mohammad Omar Baslim, Deputy Representative of the Ministry of Education, Yemen; Dr. Amin Farchoukh, Representative of Lebanon to the Executive board of ALECSO; Mr. Rein Nieland, Head of Section for Governance and Security, Delegation of the European Union, Lebanon; and Ms. Mireille Girard, UNHCR Representative to Lebanon.
The second panel titled “Innovative Approaches to Financing for Education” looked at innovative approaches to mobilizing new sources of financing for education in emergencies, including the emergence of large private sector donors and foundations, as well as public-private partnerships. It was moderated by Dr. Amani Albedah, Deputy Director General, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, and included interventions from: Mr. Kamel Braham, Regional Program Leader for Human Development, World Bank; Ms. Tania Chapuisat, UNICEF Representative to Lebanon; Mr. Refaat Sabbah, CCNGO/EFA Regional Focal Point for the Arab States and Representative of Global Campaign for Education; Mr. Nasser Faqih, ECW Senior Partnership Advisor.
Download the 2019 GEM report: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0026/002658/265866E.pdf