The Syrian civil war began in 2011 from a pro-democracy uprising, known as the Arab Spring, and has resulted in 13.5 million Syrians who require humanitarian assistance, 6.5 million who are displaced within Syria, and 4.8 million who are refugees. Refugees do not have access to basic needs including; food, shelter, clothing, clean drinking water, toys, and education for children. According to the United Nations, in 2009, 94% of children in Syria were in school, whereas now just 40% of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are receiving a primary or secondary level education.
George and Amal Clooney are launching an initiative to educate the Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, with the financial aid of Google. The White House says that corporate commitment for refugee relief reaches a whopping $650 million, yet that money is only able to provide employment for 220,000 refugees and education for 80,000 refugee children. With the aid of Google, the Clooneys look to provide more than 250,000 children with education; this is approximately half of the school-age children in Lebanon.
George Clooney told USA Today that a lack of education “leads to a horrible outcome a decade from now, a generation from now. Let’s not lose an entire generation of people because they happened to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Clooney’s words flow into his goal of desiring to enroll 10,000 refugee children by September 2017 and another 50,000 children by 2018. He hopes to enroll them in English speaking schools that teach them everything from math to human rights to computer coding.
Amal shared how “[they] want to get every single out-of-school child in Lebanon an education.”
Amal herself left Lebanon due to war when she was younger, remains thankful she received an education, and wishes to pass that on to other children.
The Clooney Foundation for Justice has been working with SABIS, an education provider, who has already had success providing schooling in Lebanon. Amal states that she and George have learned about a specific school in Mtein, Lebanon and they wish to use a model of that specific school and apply it on a larger scale.
SABIS President Carl Bistany says that temporary schools with technology will be set up in areas containing larger concentrations of refugee children: “The plan is to launch ten schools as close as possible to the communities with the highest need in September 2017.”
Google director, Jacquelline Fuller, also voices how important it is that Syrian refugee children get a first-rate education. She explains that at Google, “access to learning and access to information is so much a core part of [their] values.” She expresses how having a quarter million refugee children in Lebanon with half of them not in school is an entire generation who could be contributing to society and “this is a cohort of children we need to invest in.”Syrian refugee children in Lebanon need to be provided an education that the Clooney’s are striving to give with the aid of Google in order to equip them with the education they need to better their futures.