Thank you Mr. Minister, and thank you all. I’m so delighted to be here with my friend, his Excellency the Minister of Education. The announcement today is the latest in the USG’s contributions to education in Lebanon. Today it is a contribution of $30 million to UNICEF, for the education of children in Lebanon.
The funding supports the Ministry of Education’s program to provide an education for the most vulnerable children in the country. It will enable at least 100,000 Lebanese and Syrian refugee children to attend public schools in the next two years.
Through this three year project that USAID is running to support the Ministry’s Reaching All Children through Education Program, which the Minister referenced, the U.S. government is providing a total of $61 million. The funding is supporting programs to keep children in school and to pay school fees for those who cannot afford it.
The initiative reflects the U.S. Government’s strong belief in the transformational power of education and it is a long-term commitment of ours to invest in the education of children in this country and therefore the country’s future.
No matter where they come from, how much or how little their parents earn, where they come from in the country geographically, with education, all children can succeed.
Education opens opportunities for jobs, it contributes to their personal growth, and it prepares children to be a positive force in their community…and hopefully, on the national level, as the future leaders of this country.
For this reason, the United States has been investing in education in Lebanon since 2010, to the tune of about $280 million. We have trained teachers, we have provided science and computer laboratories, we have provided over 200,000 Arabic language textbooks, and merit-based scholarships for children who cannot afford to go to school on their own. These are all ways that we are investing, we believe, in the future of Lebanon.
Under the Minister’s guidance, our goal is to have all school children reading at the appropriate grade level, their teachers armed with the needed tools to effectively deliver their lessons, and their classrooms well equipped for a modern learning experience.
Our contribution today is the American share of a much larger commitment of international donors who are supporting Lebanon through, often NGO’s, but very much so through the UN agencies who are working so hard in this country to help with the relief that the country needs, to help what the country needs, to support the burden of the refugees who are here. We all appreciate that Lebanon has per capita the largest population of refugees right now in the world, and it is our duty and obligation to help Lebanon manage this problem, manage the crisis, manage the demands, and help these people so that they can maintain themselves during this period until there is peace in Syria, and they can go home.
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Tanya (Chapuisat) and the team at UNICEF who are doing amazing work for the children. Both the Syrian refugee children, but also Lebanese children, are very much beneficiaries of what they are doing, and the great work that they are doing with teachers across this entire country. But I would really like to close and especially thank the Minister for your guidance, for your patience, for your absolutely untiring schedule and pace and absolute dedication to making sure that every child in this country, no matter their circumstances, that every child in this country gets an education. So thank you very much Mr. Minister, We appreciate what you and your entire team are doing.