American Univesity of Beirut

What would it take for refugee youth to have opportunities to learn and build better futures?

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Sally Abou Melhem, Office of Communications​, communica​tions@aub.edu.lb​​​​​​​​

A collaborative research project, ReBuild, has been focused on the question: How can education help young refugees build durable futures?

This research was conducted in collaboration with colleagues at AUB (Dr. Carmen Geha), Peace Research Institute Oslo (Dr. Cindy Horst), Teachers College Columbia University (Dr. Vidur Chopra), Harvard University (Dr. Sarah Dryden-Peterson), and Oxford University (Joumana Talhouk). It included eight months of observations in public and private schools in Lebanon and over 100 hours of interviews with Syrian Grade 9 students, their teachers, and families. The researchers learned from young people who are refugees on how to narrow the distance between the kinds of education refugees have access to and the kinds of education and opportunities they seek.

The research team points out that there is so much focus in education research on problems and barriers, yet, even amidst uncertainty and hardship, there is hope for opportunities for new understanding and action. “We learn from students that it is hard, but not impossible, for teachers to help refugee students narrow this gap between their educational realities and their goals and aspirations," writes the research team.

“As the education system in Lebanon crumbles, we must all come to the support of teachers and administrators who play a major role in making students feel safe enough to learn and connect," said Dr. Carmen Geha. Dr. Sarah Dryden-Peterson said, “students identify the powerful ways that some teachers connect with them to build meaningful relationships and help to make what they learn relevant. We need to ensure that all teachers work in the conditions and have the kinds of opportunities for learning that enable them to do this essential work."  

The project team also encourages our readers to “check out what Syrian refugee children wish their teachers knew about their experience and their learning needs." Here is a link to the four-minute animation, We See You: What Syrian Refugee Students Wish Their Teachers Knew.​

More information, such as key takeaways and concrete recommendations on how policymakers, educators, and researchers can support their practices can be found on these links in English and in Arabic.

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