Bank’s ground-breaking offer aims to support Lebanon’s goal to provide education for all children -- Lebanese and Syrian refugees -- by end of next year
BEIRUT, March 25, 2016 – World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today announced a major new US$100 million initiative aimed at supporting the Government of Lebanon’s plan to improve the quality of its education and to get all Lebanese and Syrian refugee children in schools by the end of the 2016-17 school year. The new financing was made possible because of a highly unusual decision by the Bank’s Board of Directors to offer Lebanon financing terms that had been reserved only for low-income countries.
In this exceptional arrangement – offered as part of the World Bank Group’s efforts to increase its assistance to both Lebanon and Jordan for their generosity in hosting Syrian refugees – the funds will help improve the quality of Lebanon’s stressed public education system as well as help expand access to all Syrian children between ages 3-18.
Lebanon’s schools have swollen by hundreds of thousands of Syrian children since the outbreak of war in neighboring Syria some five years ago. Many schools now hold double-shifts of classes in the morning and afternoon to meet the demand. Still, an estimated 200,000 Syrian children living in Lebanon are not going to school.
“We will not stand by when there's a danger of a lost generation of Syrian children as well as the potential for a reversal of Lebanon's achievements in education,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “We are here today to express solidarity and support to Lebanon as it copes with the impact of the Syria crisis. Lebanon needs the resources to expand health, education, and safety nets services, and its municipalities need help to cope with the formidable stress caused by the influx of a million and half refugees. Lebanon and its leaders need to tackle these vulnerabilities in earnest, and they can count on the World Bank's support and cooperation.”
Kim’s announcement came during the second day of a joint visit to Lebanon with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Islamic Development Bank Group President Dr. Mohamed Ali Al-Madani. The three leaders traveled to Lebanon to get a first-hand look at the impact of the Syrian crisis and to assess how the combined strengths of the three organizations can best support the country in light of the ongoing regional conflicts and instability.
On Friday, the three leaders will travel to Northern Lebanon to see the dire conditions of the refugees and host communities. The field visit will include a social development center that provides health, nutrition and social services to extremely poor households, part of the World Bank-sponsored National Poverty Targeting Program. Their two-day visit also includes meetings with Tammam Salam, Lebanon’s Prime Minister, and Nabih Berri, the Speaker of the Parliament, and a range of senior government officials.
The US$100 million in World Bank Group financing will support the government of Lebanon’s commitment to getting all children aged 3-18 into quality education through the second Reaching All Children with Education (RACE II) plan. The Ministry of Education and Higher Education has already enrolled more than 200,000 Syrian children in formal schools during the 2015-16 school year. Lebanon is now accelerating its targets to achieve the Syria Conference goal of all children aged 5-17 in education by the end of the 2016-17 school year. Lebanon also plans to provide early childhood education for all 3- to 5-year-old children.
The World Bank Group is working closely with the Government to meet the RACE II education goals along with the UN agencies including UNICEF, UNHCR, and UNESCO, and key donors from Austria, Canada, European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Over the past several months, the World Bank Group has reoriented its strategy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to promote peace and stability as the necessary conditions for development. Working with partners, the aim is to focus directly on the causes of conflict, while helping countries address its consequences and to recover and rebuild. The new strategy is built on four main pillars:
- Restore trust between citizens and their governments with greater accountability and improved services,
- Promote increased regional cooperation around the shared priorities of education, energy and water,
- Support countries and communities hosting large numbers of refugees, to strengthen their resilience,
- Prepare for reconstruction whenever and wherever peace emerges.
To raise the volume of financing needed to implement the new strategy, and to rally the international community around the common goal of promoting peace and stability in the region, the World Bank Group has partnered with the United Nations and the Islamic Development Bank Group. Together they have convened the international community to develop the New Financing Initiative to Support the MENA Region, which aims to: (i) provide concessional financing to support refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon, the middle income countries of the region that have been the most impacted by the Syrian refugee crisis; and (ii) raise a greater volume of financing needed for post-conflict reconstruction and economic recovery for countries across the MENA region. Importantly, this initiative will create a unique platform among multilateral development banks and the UN to strengthen coordination on development assistance to the region at this critical juncture.
At the Supporting Syria and the Region conference that took place in February in London, the World Bank Group announced that it will triple its investment in the region as compared to the previous five years. Funding from the New Financing Initiative to Support the MENA Region combined with current programs is expected to total about US$20 billion over the coming five years. Furthermore, the New Financing Initiative to Support the MENA Region aims to raise US$1 billion in grants from donors over the next five years, which will be leveraged to provide US$3 to US$4 billion in highly concessional loans for Jordan and Lebanon. In addition, in response to the current crisis, the World Bank Board of Directors have taken the extraordinary measure of approving US$200 million in direct concessional financing to create jobs and increase access to education in Jordan and Lebanon.