Right To Play in Lebanon
Right To Play has been serving at-risk children and youth in Lebanon since 2006. We began by supporting displaced Palestinian children and have since expanded our programs to support displaced Syrians and youth from vulnerable communities in Lebanon.
We provide training, peer support, and coaching and mentoring to teachers to help them improve teaching practice and integrate play-based learning into the classroom, and we provide psychosocial support to children coping with the trauma of conflict and displacement. We work with governments and partners to train primary school teachers to create child-centered, play-based, and positive learning environments, and with local communities to increase the capacity of civil society organizations and youth groups. Our goal is to promote positive educational outcomes, psychosocial wellbeing, inclusion, and life skills among young people in Lebanon.
Over the next five years, our work in Lebanon will focus on the outcome areas of quality education and child protection. We aim to reach 740,000 children and 420,000 parents by 2025.
We are working to:
- Ensure more children have access to inclusive, safe, and quality education
- Ensure more children stay in school by integrating play-based, child-centered, and competency-based teaching into primary education
- Promote the psychosocial wellbeing of children and youth
- Support and meaningfully engage youth in career guidance, vocational training, and life skills
Lebanon is a small country that boasts high levels of human development and tertiary education. While it has successfully achieved important Millennium Development Goal targets in health and education, Lebanon has experienced a series of crises that have exacerbated underlying fragilities and have significantly impacted the well-being of children and youth. More than 50% of Lebanese children and youth suffer from anxiety and 13% suffer from depression.
Lebanon is at the forefront of the ongoing Syrian crisis. While Lebanon remains committed to hosting refugees from the region, including more than 1.5 million displaced Syrians and more than 200,000 Palestinian refugees, the conflict in Syria has had detrimental impacts on Lebanon’s social and economic development. With an erosion in the availability and quality of services and competition for employment, social tensions have increased at the local level. These impacts have been compounded by the economic emergency declared in September 2019, the spread and lingering effects of COVID-19, and pressures created by rising inflation and political instability. These crises have exposed children to more protection risks and mean they are more likely to have their education severely compromised. More girls are forced into marriage and there is an increased scarcity of access to inclusive education, especially for children with disabilities. Children in Lebanon are involved in child labour.
Right To Play works with the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to improve the quality of education delivered in public schools located in communities with high numbers of Syrian refugees, as well as in UNRWA schools.
Teachers play a critical role in delivering quality education that helps improve learning outcomes. Right To Play trains primary school teachers on how to create child-centered, play-based, and positive learning environments that help children develop to their full potential and achieve expected national curriculum outcomes. We reinforce improved teaching practice through the establishment of peer support mechanisms and by training school leadership and supervisors on coaching, mentoring, and the principles of play-based learning. We also support physical enhancements to classrooms and play spaces, and provide learning and play materials to schools. We mobilize parents and communities to support children’s learning and address barriers to education, especially those that impede the enrollment of girls and children with disabilities. These improved practices increase the agency of children and youth to strengthen and reform formal and informal education systems, and adapt them to students’ and teachers’ needs.
Significant numbers of older children in Lebanon do not attend school, and almost one third of youth are unemployed. Right To Play offers youth opportunities for quality informal education at the community level. These programs teach life skills like leadership, cooperation, critical thinking, and problem-solving. We have placed a particular emphasis on opportunities for girls and young women by ensuring they have safe spaces to engage in sport and structured play activities, and by addressing specific cultural barriers towards the inclusion of girls in sport.
In 2019, Right To Play began a strategic partnership with SAT-7 to broadcast Puzzle TV, a television game show that uses Right To Play games to provide youth with the skills needed to influence social change. Puzzle TV reached an estimated viewership of one million children in Lebanon and five million in the wider region. In 2020, we distributed education kits to students, supported physical enhancements to classrooms and play spaces, developed resources, including an internet safety module, for home play, and held parental guidance sessions that supported caregivers during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
We are now scaling our partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to 120 public schools, placing a particular focus on digital learning, early reading, and enhancing teacher capacity to using play-based learning to promote reading skills.
“When we first started, youth didn’t know how to communicate, they were continuously loud and arguing with each other, [sometimes] there was violence, they didn’t know how to express themselves or listen to others. But now if you sit with them, they are completely different, this is because of the life skills component. We could not do profiling or vocational training for them to even hold a saw if they didn’t have these skills, could not communicate, or did not trust us.” — GOAL program coach
Right To Play helps build the capacity of communities to lead advocacy and support the psychosocial wellbeing of children. We use music, sports, arts, and games in all forms to help children cope with trauma and speak out against violence, exploitation, and abuse.
For example, we provided children and youth with an opportunity to participate in a structured Music for Social Change program that gave them a platform and an opportunity to learn how to drive community advocacy on social issues they care about, and to build relationships with youth of different backgrounds and nationalities.
We provide referrals to organizations that offer specialized services such as mental health, protection, livelihood referrals, career counselling, legal support, shelter, food security, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. These referral systems and organizations help keep children safe and help them respond to violence and abuse.
Working jointly with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Right To Play has also implemented programs at social development centres that help build youth’s leadership and employment skills and increase the agency of young people around child rights and protection. We also strive to equip youth with practical skills to enter the job market by helping them better understand how their competencies align with employment opportunities, providing career counselling, and helping them develop social and emotional skills that help to increase resilience and self-confidence.
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Right To Play follows a robust partnership model, working with institutional partners such as the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to promote positive educational outcomes, psychosocial wellbeing, physical health and critical life skills.
Right To Play programs in Lebanon are also supported by UNICEF, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Global Affairs Canada, Norad, the LEGO Foundation, and supporters like you.
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