American Univesity of Beirut

Education and Youth Policy



    Investing in education brings forth benefits to the nation as well as to the individual by yielding high socio-economic returns. Research reinforces the close association of more schooling with higher individual earnings and improved social welfare. The education sector within a nation state is seen as the platform for raising the skill level of workers which ultimately leads to higher economic productivity. Education also enables individuals to become competent and responsible citizens. 

    This is achieved by giving them an opportunity to acquire an understanding of the values they hold, an appreciation of what they mean to life, and better equips them with the knowledge and skills needed to make better decisions that would impact their lives. Therefore, investing in education has significant social benefits as much as it has economic returns to the individual and the society. It affects human well-being not only in directly increasing human qualities and skills for economic production and market exchange, but also in enlarging individual opportunity sets by giving people new possibilities to enrich their lives. The importance of education, at all its levels, is clearly reflected in the post 2015 sustainable development agenda, which emphasizes lifelong learning beyond the traditional school. 

    Given the significant role of education in society and the key role of youth in development, the Education and Youth Research Program (EYRP) is well positioned to address issues of youth and education in the Arab world with the aim of informing policy for improved education achievement and for addressing youth issues as they relate to education and employment. 


    The program focuses on projects that aim at benefiting the individual and the society through advancing fundamental concepts while tackling practical problems embedded in real-world settings, as well as  informing educational policy and promoting improved educational practices and achievement through an increased understanding of the issues of education in the Arab world and their impact on children and youth in the region.

    The program aims at actively engaging with educators, practitioners, youth and policymakers who can have a direct impact on making a difference in the lives of children and youth through education.  
    The program will serve as a resource for government agencies and other institutions in order to shape the education and youth policy debate through evidence.
    The mission of the Education and Youth Program will be accomplished by:

    • Collaborating with AUB faculty members on policy-relevant research;
    • Producing and disseminating original research;
    • Providing the tools and resources to utilize research for informed policy-making and improved practice;
    • Working in collaboration with institutions of common focus.

    Current Approach

    The program focuses on three themes: primary and basic education, tertiary education, and youth and employment. The program has already embarked on a number of research studies that are well-grounded in practice to address emergent issues within these three themes. More recently, the program began to address issues related to the economics of education as well as issues pertaining to education in emergencies beyond forced migration.​


    The EYRP has been key in informing both practice and policy on education and higher education in emergencies, working closely with organizations such as UNHCR and the EU. The program has also been instrumental in guiding the Ministry of Education and Higher Education’s vision on addressing issues related to the education of refugees. Most recently, the program advice was sought on developing a draft law in Lebanon for online learning as well as providing an overview on assessment in times of emergencies due to COVID19 to the Regional Center on Education Planning for UNESCO. Such collaborations continue to highlight the leading role of the program in providing policy insights and advice on key higher education issues. ​

    Main ​​Contacts


    Focus Areas

    Focus Area #1: Tertiary Education 

    This focus area will address the study of issues within tertiary education in the Arab world. Access to education in most countries of the Arab world expanded quite rapidly in the past decade, particularly to tertiary education. As a result, progress has been made in enrollment and completion rates in both secondary and higher education. Yet the dramatic expansion of post-basic education in the Arab world is not living up to the expectations of employers, families, and young graduates. Many graduates are not getting jobs and many employers claim that young graduates are not well-equipped with relevant skills. It is strongly believed that the key to restoring a sense of dignity and agency among the youth in the region and for an increased productivity is through accountable educational systems. The program will focus on studying the different aspects of tertiary education that can contribute to an improved system of post-basic education better aligned with the demands of the society and the market. This will be achieved by systematically developing research studies that understand the current situation of the tertiary education systems in the region and provides insights and policy recommendations for improvement.  

    Focus Area #2: Youth and Employment  

    This focus area addresses issues of youth and lifelong learning, particularly through looking at transitions to employment and on the job training. Unemployment is more prevalent in countries of the Arab world than in other middle-income regions, as a high proportion of the working-age population, particularly women and youth, experiences high unemployment. The high unemployment is predominantly a youth phenomenon, not only resulting from high unemployment rates among the young, but also from the young’s demographic weight in the working-age population in the region. Studies reveal that the height of the youth bulge will be observed in the region by 2030 with an estimated increase of 10 million of the school age population (0-24 years). In addition to the high youth population, employers in the region complain of the low relevance of the skills of applicants to firms’ business needs. Therefore, this focus area explores the employability of youth in the region, through engaging in research studies that provide a better understanding of the current situation in order to address policy concerns. 

    Focus Area #3: K-12 Education 

    Most countries of the Arab world do not fare well in international student assessment. This indicates that the quality of education in the region is low (by international standards), revealing that too many students are not learning. The low quality and relevance of education are widely seen as the most important reason for the failure of educational and training systems in countries of the Arab world to produce employable graduates. Numerous plans have been put forth and many attempts at implementations have gone through in a number of countries of the region, all aiming at improving educational outcomes of nations, however, the low quality of education persists in many of the regions K-12 systems. This focus area will explore issues within K-12 education in the Arab world, particularly addressing issues of improved quality and equity in access to education and educational opportunities, providing practical implications and policy recommendations.

    On-going R​​esearch/Projects

    • A26 BP
    • WB Vulnerability Study
    • EDT Teacher Study
    • UNHCR DAFI Scholars Study
    • UNHCR Connected Learning Study
    • AGFE Study on Higher Education for Refugees
    • Syrian Teacher Academy
    • Non-formal Education Conference


    • National Qualifications Framework
    • Connected Learning
    • UNHCR HQ Geneva

    Completed ​​​Research/Projects

    I D.R.E.A.M: Innovative Design in Research, Education, And Mentorship: Preparing High School Syrian Youth for Higher Education–An Extended Pre-College Boot Camp (Ongoing)

    This project addresses the issue of early school withdrawal among vulnerable youth in Lebanon, which is usually further highlighted by the socio-economic and political distress. Studies show that the greatest determinant of who goes to college is socio-economic status, as many of these vulnerable youth are likely to face strains in their homes, jobs, and other community settings that lead them to leave school or not pursue post-secondary education. For refugee youth in particular, and at the secondary level specifically, in host countries such as Lebanon, demand far outweighs supply, leaving the majority of refugee youth excluded from the possibility of transitioning to post-secondary education. The IDREAM targets Lebanese and Syrian refugee youth enrolled within the public secondary schools in Lebanon. It will include peer mentoring on 21st century skills, and will expose the participating youth to the potential scholarship opportunities that they may otherwise not be aware of. Beyond the school to college connections, this partnership will further enhance social cohesion among the host community and refugee communities, and it will allow for the secondary school students to become ambassadors to their communities carrying back the learning to those who are left behind.

    Connected Learning in Lebanon (Completed)

    This project presents a succinct and thorough analysis of the current situation of the use of connected learning programs in the area of higher education in Lebanon. It maps the new practices within the scope of connected learning in the country, and identifies the key challenges for refugee students around connected learning as well as for academic entities, highlighting the areas of coordination between Lebanese private and public universities and other key stakeholders within the sector. It further elaborates an in depth analysis of the existing policy and legal frameworks in Lebanon as related to connected learning and the higher education provision for Syrian refugees, including coordination and exchange of information, measures and practices of degree recognition and equivalency.

    Youth Access to Higher Education inside Syria: Roadmap for re-engagement in Higher Education inside Syria (Ongoing)

    This initiative is a collaboration with the British Council presenting an opportunity to gain further insight into the needs of youth within higher education inside Syria, establishing collaborations and connections between international actors and higher education institutions, Syrian professionals and students. It includes a series of roundtable events and advocacy meetings gathering experts and key stakeholders to reflect on the issue and to gain further insight into issues of higher education inside Syria. This initiative is significant in light of the investment in higher education in the region which has focused so far on local and international scholarship programs for refugee youth and educational programs serving the displaced. However, access to such opportunities remains sharply limited for youth inside Syria. 

    Pathways to Education for Refugee Youth in Jordan and Lebanon (Completed in October 2018)

    This project, a collaboration with Al Ghurair Foundation, investigated the state of education for refugee youth, particularly Syrians and Palestinians, living in Jordan and Lebanon, within each of the secondary, technical and vocational education (TVET) and higher education levels. The study mapped key challenges faced by refugees and identified the available opportunities across the different education sectors in the host countries. The report highlighted the key opportunities to current and future stakeholders for scaling support to refugees. 

    The Way Forward (Sent in January 2019 to editor)

    The study provided an in depth overview of the current state of the DAFI program implemented in Lebanon. It provided further insights on the parameters of refugees’ enrollment in the scholarship, their academic success, and the opportunities and challenges they face in completing their university degrees within the scholarship program.

    Article 26 Backpack (A26 Backpack) - The Universal Human Rights Tool for Academic Mobility (Ongoing)

    The Article 26 Backpack is an online tool for empowering young people to plan and structure their higher education as well as their training and career pathways. This initiative is in collaboration with the University of California – Davis. It provides youth with a tool to safely store and share with universities, scholarship agencies, and even employers their educational background, employment history, professional achievements and goals. 

    Art, Language, Youth and the Legacy of Conflict in Lebanon project / The Youth Role Project (Ongoing)

    Art, Language, Youth and the Legacy of Conflict in Lebanon project (also known as Lebanon: The Youth Role), is a joint project of the University of Leeds, the American University of Beirut, and the British Council in Lebanon. It is a sister project of Changing the Story, based at the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures (CWCDC) at University of Leeds. The project explores the role of language in Lebanon, the place of linguistic hybridity amongst young people and the role this plays in generating new societal narratives that are engaging with the nation’s past of the civil war, with the aim of supporting increased social cohesion and stronger civil society. This will be achieved through using an impact focused ‘participatory action research’ (PAR), and a range of participatory arts methodologies- in particular the co- production of video responses.

    Integrating Syrians into Lebanese Higher Education through Recognition of Qualifications (Ongoing, expected completion date August 2019)

    This project supported by the EU funded HOPES Program, explores the integration of Syrian refugee students within the higher education institutions in Lebanon, identifying the coping strategies used by the Syrian students at the local universities. The project will also allow for the adaptation and implementation of a new tool for the recognition of qualifications in higher education. The tool will be developed in close collaboration with NOKUT, the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education, aiming to provide a comprehensive, functional, and tailor-made instrument for Syrians with academic documents that need to be validated and more specifically Syrians without proper academic documents needed for accessing the Lebanese higher education sector.

    Mapping the expertise and the Skills of the Syrian Teachers in Lebanon (Ongoing-Report writing phase)

    This study is a collaboration with the Education Development Trust aiming at mapping the expertise, skills and professional development needs of displaced Syrian Teachers in Lebanon. It examines closely the profiles of displaced Syrian teachers working within non-formal education settings in the country, highlighting the challenges and opportunities they face, and investigating the role they play within the scope of education in emergencies. Participating Syrian teachers used participatory action research (PAR) in order to further support the work of the research team.

    Syrian teachers’ Academy (Ongoing)

    The American University of Beirut is leading an effort to address some of the key issues in mitigating the current crisis in the region by supporting the professional education of Syrian teachers through the Syrian Teachers’ Academy (STA). The STA is a progressive yearlong teacher-professional education and leadership program for Syrian teachers in Lebanon and Syria. It addresses the Syrian education crisis from a strategic perspective, going beyond an Emergency Response approach and aims to develop and implement scalable and sustainable educational solutions as well as durable futures that will have deep and lasting impacts on teachers, students and ultimately, education inside Syria. The STA program is designed to scale up pedagogical expertise and subject content knowledge in order to provide Syrian children and youth with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the 21st century. This initiative brings together collaborators and experts from a number of local and international universities, as well as key international organizations, such as Harvard University, Notre-Dame University Louaize, The British Council, the Education Development Trust, and Teach for Lebanon, Queen Rania Teaching Academy, and many more.

    Mapping Education Policies for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey

    The Syrian refugee crisis has become one of the most challenging contemporary global humanitarian crises. Not only has the three-year conflict resulted in the tremendous loss of lives and livelihoods for Syrians, it has also led to the creation of a generation of lost and traumatized refugee children in dire need of education throughout their prolonged displacement. Around 3.1 million children and youth inside Syria and in neighboring countries are in need of education. Education has become one of the largest issues impacting Syrian refugee in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Furthermore, it has emerged as a priority for a number of international organizations and local NGOs. However, host countries remain central to the policies and practices that govern access and retention of these children in the education system across all levels. This study will map the policies and practices that influence the access of Syrian refugees to primary education in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. It will also present the varied modes of education available for these students in each of the host countries listed, and investigate the intersection (if any) between the roles of each of the NGOs, INGOs, and local government stakeholders in mitigating the emergent crisis of education. Study findings will provide a better understanding of the policy context of the education of Syrian refugees in each of the host countries, providing policy makers with a comparative lens to look at the current status and possible policy recommendations for a possible response.

    Youth voices: Exploring priorities among host communities and adolescent refugees in Lebanon and Egypt through participatory action research (PAR)

    The AUB Policy Institute and the Save the Children International have recently embarked on a joint project, titled “Youth voices: Exploring priorities among host communities and adolescent refugees in Lebanon and Egypt through participatory action research (PAR)”. The aim of this project is to identify the barriers to positive development faced by adolescent refugees, as well as by adolescents from host communities in Lebanon and in Egypt. The project also aims to identify possible solutions to these barriers, as suggested by the youth themselves. To this end, the project will employ a participatory action research (PAR) approach, a form of research built on the assumption that those affected by an issue are in the best position to research it. In PAR, research partners from target communities work in close collaboration with a professional research team to choose the issues they want to research, the tools they want to use to explore these issues, and how they want to disseminate their findings. Research partners become empowered as a result of the PAR process, because it allows them to reflect on issues they face within their community. The research partners choose how they believe their research findings can be translated into community interventions that are meant to benefit their community. In Lebanon and in Egypt, outcomes of the youth’s research will inform interventions that address their needs. Findings will also provide an evidence-base for future work with adolescents and youth facing humanitarian crises, which is a priority for Save the Children in the region.

    National Youth Policy:​​ Lebanon as a Case Study

    The AUB Policy Institute and the National Youth Forum in Lebanon have partnered on a study of the national youth policy in Lebanon, which is an essential instrument guiding and institutionalizing a country’s commitment to youth development. The elaboration and implementation of such policies in the MENA region have been weak and slow; Lebanon is no exception. The Lebanese Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) MASAR has been one of the main local actors in leading and facilitating the national youth forum which includes youth NGOs and youth wings from various political parties. This study, aims at providing in-depth understanding of the decision-making process entailed by the national youth policy in Lebanon. It aims to evaluate achievements of the policy initiative, constraints in formulation and prospects for implementation. It further addresses the role of youth in the policy-making process. It specifically examines the policy-making process, the role of CSO’s in the process, the objective of generating insights about how policies are made, what influences policy-making and the use of evidence in this process.

    Leveraging the Qua​​lity of Higher Education in Lebanon: A policy tracing study (completed study)

    In this study, the AUB Policy Institute looked closely at the policy-making process in Lebanon by examining the draft law on quality assurance in higher education as a case study. Understanding the dynamics of developing policies is critical for improving the higher education sector particularly in highly politicized contexts like Lebanon. The analysis of the policy development of the draft quality assurance law aims at generating in-depth insights on the public policy-making process, identifying factors that influence policy-making and other contextual elements that impact the progress of the policy. The study employed a qualitative descriptive research design that drew on semi structured interviews, and media and document analysis. Thematic analysis was conducted based on the Walt and Gilson Policy Triangle Framework and the Multiple Streams Theory. Findings highlighted the complex nature and unstructured approach to policy-making in Lebanon. This study identified the barriers that hindered the progress of the draft quality assurance law. It also shed the light on the importance of wide engagement of stakeholders. Findings were interpreted within the context of the Lebanese political environment.​




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