American Univesity of Beirut

Ghata: Bringing Education to Informal Tented Settlements


Ghata (Arabic word for cover), portable multifunctional units assembled by refugees within close proximity to their areas of stay, are utilized to provide quality education, vocational trainings for improved livelihoods, and trauma informed medical and mental healthcare programs.

Executive Summary

Ten years into the Syrian conflict, almost 50%, or half a million, of the school-aged Syrian children registered in Lebanon are out of schools. Barriers to refugees’ education include, but are not limited to, prejudice, lack of psychosocial support, poverty, limited mobility, and inadequate built environments for learning.   

The Ghata, inspired by refugees’ shelter building practices, is a 20sqm, scalable, cost-effective, ecologically responsive, and structurally secure unit, which requires two refugees six hours to assemble, and three hours to disassemble for relocation. Its lifespan is around 15 years, which nearly equals the average term of displacement of refugees enduring a protracted crisis. Combined, Ghata structures create a multifunctional campus for holistic community services, each accommodating up to 800 students (ages 6-18 years) daily on a double-shift basis. The model enables refugees and host communities to build secure and dignified lives and to become agents of change through the integration of: (1) culturally-relevant primary education, (2) vocational training and digital skills for employability, and (3) trauma-informed medical and mental health programs. 

Ghata was designed and piloted in 2013 by CCECS, and to date, there are twelve operational Ghata school campuses across Lebanon, two in Iraq and one (under construction) in Uganda.


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