No Lost Generation: Supporting the School Participation of Displaced Syrian Children in Lebanon

Jacobus de Hoop, UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti
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As a result of the Syrian conflict, Lebanon has one of the highest per capita ratios of registered refugees in the world. In early 2016, an estimated 1.5 million of a total population of 5.9 million in Lebanon were displaced Syrians. The Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) and partner agencies have implemented a variety of policies to ensure that the approximately 500,000 Syrian children of primary school age (6 – 14 years) in Lebanon can attend school and do not become a lost generation. Despite these efforts, approximately half the Syrian children of primary school age in Lebanon did not attend school in the 2015/16 school year.

This paper documents the impact of a cash transfer program—an initiative of the Government of Lebanon, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Food Programme (WFP), widely known as the No Lost Generation Programme (NLG) and, locally, as Min Ila (‘from to’)—on the school participation of displaced Syrian children in Lebanon. The program provides cash to children who are enrolled in the afternoon shift of a public primary school. It was designed to cover the cost of commuting to school and to compensate households for income forgone if children attend school instead of working, two critical barriers to child school participation.

The authors used a geographical regression discontinuity design comparing children living in two pilot governorates with children in two neighboring governorates to identify the impact of the program halfway in the first year of operation (the 2016/17 school year). They found limited program effects on school enrollment, but substantive impacts on school attendance among enrolled children, which increased by 0.5 days to 0.7 days per week, an improvement of about 20 percent over the control group. School enrollment among Syrian children rose rapidly across all of Lebanon’s governorates during the period of the evaluation, resulting in supply-side capacity constraints that appear to have dampened positive impacts on enrollment.

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