May 6, 2015 (Washington, DC) – At the Clinton Global Initiative Middle East/Africa conference, which opened today in Marrakesh, Morocco, the American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL) announced, in partnership with Virginia-based e-learning provider TidWiT, a commitment to provide free e-learning to Lebanese children and the Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.
Through TidWiT’s innovative e-learning platform, ATFL and TidWiT envision reaching 50,000 refugees and 10,000 teachers with digitized Lebanese and Syrian curricula, drastically cutting the costs of education from about $2000 per student (or about $1 billion per year for the 500,000 Syrian school-age refugee children) to just $20 per student.
The Syrian crisis began in March 2011 and Lebanon has now absorbed almost 1.5 million Syrians. According to the UNHCR, approximately 280,000 Syrian refugee children were registered in Lebanon at the start of the 2014/2015 school year. With Lebanon’s public school system capacity at a total of 300,000 children, the Ministry of Education has indicated that a maximum of 90,000 refugee children can be accommodated in the schools. Meanwhile, UNICEF estimates that up to 30% of Lebanon’s Syrian refugees and 60% of the local Lebanese population have internet and communications access—opening a window of opportunity for online learning.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with TidWiT and the Clinton Global Initiative for this critical commitment to Lebanon’s and Syria’s children,” said ATFL Executive Director Dr. George Cody. “Perhaps one of the greatest costs of this protracted conflict is the lost generation of children who have missed out on educational opportunities thus far. We hope to change that.”
About the American Task Force for Lebanon:
The ATFL was founded by prominent Lebanese Americans in 1987 and incorporated in 1989, and has since worked to connect Americans of Lebanese heritage, and promote the national unity, security, and prosperity of a free and democratic Lebanon. The group was instrumental in the 1990s in urging the US to lift its 10-year travel ban on Lebanon, and has undertaken a number of humanitarian initiatives, including cluster-bomb clearance and demining efforts and purchasing 13 ambulances for the Lebanese Red Cross. Since violence broke out in Syria in 2011, the ATFL has worked to mitigate the humanitarian crisis caused by an influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon and has worked to raise awareness of the refugee situation. The ATFL has also urged the US to substantially increase security assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces, Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces, and General Security. The ATFL advocates for religious coexistence and the protection of vulnerable religious communities in the Middle East.