New Lebanese school for Syrian refugees switches books for tablets

The school - although restricted to the confines of a tent - would be designed to replicate a normal school environment as closely as possible

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Despite being deemed a basic human right, education for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon is often scarce.

But a new school, set to launch later this year in Lebanon, aims to change all that with an ambitious new project, which sees each pupil being issued with a durable tablet computer instead of traditional textbooks.


“Each children in our school will have an educational tablet with a software that can handle the curriculum of their country so that the students can stay connected with their own culture and history,” Nancy Ruffing, the founder of Rapid Intervention School Education (RISE) told Al Arabiya News.

According to the educator, the desperate circumstances caused by the war in Syria mean that “parents have been prioritizing food and shelter and have missed out on giving their children a valuable education.”

Nancy - RISE
Nancy - RISE

Recent figures show that eight-out-of-ten Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are not enrolled in schools.

“We came up with an interactive solution to make sure that children are able to continue their education without any issues despite the harsh situations in their countries,” Ruffing said.

“All the tablets are water-resistant, don’t break easy and can even handle a high level of heat, as the children are in an environment that is not normal,” she added.

The educator said that the school - although restricted to the confines of a tent - would be designed to replicate a normal educational environment as closely as possible.

“We wanted to make kids feel that they are going to a real school despite the ongoing war in their country… we have designed a tent that has windows, paintings, benches and everything a normal school has ... [but] even better!”

Future vision

RISE, which is aiming to open its school in September to coincide with the start of the next academic year, hopes to reach all children around the world in need of education.

“As soon as we are done with the Lebanese challenge, we hope to reach other children in need of education in other Arab countries,” Ruffing said.

“We are prepared to provide any curriculum to any country that is in a stressful situation including Ukraine and Nepal or any other country in Asia,” she said.

In its first year, RISE is looking to raise the number of Syrian children in Lebanon receiving an education from around 100,000 to 400,000 - approximately the total number of school-aged refugee children in the Arab country.


To finance the new project - which has been underway for 18 months - the group has called upon different sources, including the Lebanese government and private donors.

“The Lebanese education ministry is very interested in the project especially [with the fact] that they are raising money for the education of refugees,” Ruffing said.

Ruffing also said that the United Nations as well as the Turkey-based opposition Syrian government have been briefed on the project.

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