Not Just a School | SB OverSeas

The case for prioritising the educational space for refugee support in Lebanon

Executive summary of seven years of field notes supporting refugees in Beirut, Saida and Arsal

Written and published by the Brussels headquarters office in collaboration with the Lebanon Field mission of Soutien Belge OverSeas, a registered Belgian non-profit humanitarian organisation (association sans but lucrative, ASBL) dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to refugees and victims of conflict. Our operations are divided into the following three activities: education, emergency aid and empowerment.


Since even before the beginning of the Syrian conflict, displaced Syrians have fled to Lebanon in order to escape from war. The conflict has been ongoing for almost 10 years – meaning that the youngest children and new-borns who left the country at the beginning of the war, are now at least 10 years old. Some of these children, most of whom never started school in Syria, reached Lebanon with their families and have never experienced a classroom – instead their day-to-day consists of through the streets of an urban camp, or across villages of tents, on their way to working on the street, rather than going to school. For this reason, SB OverSeas in 2013 opened an education and empowerment centre in one of the largest informal refugee settlements in Beirut in order to create places for these children to finally enter the classroom. It is the lives of these children, their siblings, families and wider community that is the subject of this report.

After working with displaced Syrians for over seven years, this report is a collection of field notes from our three educational centres that describe not only the context of and why we operate our projects as we do, but also to primarily answer the question of how to we understand the impact of education on a community in a crisis and protracted displaced situation as is the case of refugees in Lebanon.

This report examines the profiles of the displaced individuals along with the context of their physical environment, their psycho-social placement as well as situational challenges related to life in Lebanon as a refugee. This discussion is rooted in on-the-ground reports from SB OverSeas’ centres in Beirut, Arsal and Saida. In this context we can understand education centres as a platform for a more wholistic support approach for displaced individuals and communities.

Read the full report here

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