Refugee School Bekaa Valley

Our former TS Academy fellow Ahmad Nouraldeen is building a school to address the virtual absence of educational opportunities available to Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. Najjar Najjar Architects, Transsolar and SAWA proposed to develop low-cost climate responsive schools to provide these children with increased opportunities and adequate conditions for learning.

Millions of Syrians have been displaced by the on-going civil war, including at least 1.2 million who are registered as refugees in Lebanon. Not only are these refugees traumatized by catastrophic events — having lost their homes and livelihoods — but the lack of educational opportunities for their children threatens to deprive younger generations of the literacy, numeracy and other basic skills necessary for economic success and civic participation.

A recent UNHCR educational assessment indicated that 80% of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon do not attend school at all. Shifting demographics are also at play, with estimates that the number of Syrian school-aged children could exceed — if it has not already exceeded — the number of Lebanese children enrolled in the public system. UN agencies, working to support the Lebanese Ministry of Education, aim to more than triple the number of Syrians enrolled in public schools. Even if this goal is achieved, however, nearly 300,000 Syrian children will remain out of school. The urgent need for educational opportunities and facilities is evident.

Moreover, even those Syrian children who do attend classes are confronted with very poor learning environments, lacking the basic amenities and unprotected from the elements. Many classes are held in tents or temporary structures which offer insufficient lighting, inadequate ventilation, poor sound insulation, and the like.

Najjar Najjar Architects, Transsolar KlimaEngineering, and Lebanese youth-oriented NGO SAWA have teamed up to investigate and built a low-cost solutions for the current situation. This interdisciplinary team proposes a pilot project that will apply climate-responsive design strategies to develop a model alternative refugee school that will provide Syrian children with supportive learning conditions. The proposed temporary structure will have a life span of up to five years, and will leave no footprint when disassembled.

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