Poverty is a complicated issue, deciding to help those it affects is not
Education is a basic human right, yet 48% of refugee children remain out of school;
32% fail to complete primary school
66% fail to complete secondary school
Only 5% are enrolled in tertiary education
This mirrors our experience – roughly 50% of our students had never been to school before; the other 50% attend part time (mornings or afternoons), as the local UNRWA school is over-subscribed.
Our children have been born into unique circumstances, so our curriculum is a little different too. We don’t teach our kids to pass exams, we teach them skills that will help them to change their future.
Refugees don’t have passports, so they need language to travel; if they don’t speak English they won’t have full access to higher education and the job market. Our aim is to ensure every child who enters our school leaves with a better understanding of the world outside and how to access it.
When boys turn into men in Burj Barajneh, they have few options. Refugees in Lebanon are banned from working in many sectors. Casual construction work and other low-paid, informal jobs may provide temporary employment. The need to support their families sometimes leads to joining a political faction or being dragged into criminal activity. There are even fewer jobs for women. Many don’t work; others earn low wages in the local sewing factory or as cleaners. Working in the family store is an option for some, but male relatives are given priority.
This is why we’re so excited about the girls’ classes and the difference they could make to their future quality of life. Helping to achieve gender equality through education is a core principle for the school. Bilingualism means more independence and increased social mobility, which helps the shift towards an equal status in society.
Investing in girls’ education transforms communities, countries and the entire world. Girls who receive an education are less likely to marry young and more likely to lead healthy, productive lives. Girls’ education strengthens economies and reduces inequality. It contributes to more stable resilient societies that give all individuals – including boys and men – the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
Education for girls is about more than access to school. It is also about girls feeling safe in classrooms and supported in the subjects and careers they choose to pursue. Barriers to girls’ education include cultural and societal traditions, poverty, child-marriage and gender-based violence. (UNICEF, 2022)
In the classroom we focus on the acquisition of spoken and written English skills and basic numeracy, supplemented with opportunities to learn about other curriculum areas. We provide access to reading materials, technology and vocational skills; art classes allow students to express their creativity and can help students cope with the psychological and emotional stress of living in a refugee camp.
Our goal is for the students to be confident individuals and successful learners, so that they can become effective contributors and responsible citizens. Our teaching methodology is based on gamifying learning to maximise student engagement. All learning materials are created in-house: they are differentiated to ensure our provision is effective and appropriate for all students, promoting dignity, equity and inclusion.
None of our students have access to reading materials at home. Our library (equipped with a range of fiction, reference books and comics in both Arabic and English) allows children to discover reading for pleasure.
100% of students enjoy choosing books to read at school; 98% want to borrow books to take home.
Our afterschool club provides children with a safe space to socialise, play and study.
Catch up classes allow children who have to work to help support their families an opportunity to continue their education; Stretch & challenge sessions are targeted at students aiming for higher education and our nurture group provides additional support for the most vulnerable children.
Our leisure activities provide opportunities to teach conflict resolution skills; improve communication skills; enhance emotional wellbeing and resilience; and reduce anxiety and tension.
On the pitch, we provide football coaching delivered by qualified coaches; mentorship from ex-professionals; and opportunities to play competitive football. The impact of these sessions include:
- Increased fitness, agility and stamina
- Improvement of football technique: passing, ball control, dribbling, shooting, heading, tackling
- Development of tactical awareness, decision-making skills, running off the ball
- Focus on fair play, resilience,leadership skills and teamwork
- Enhanced social cohesion and strengthened interpersonal relationships
Our annual football tournament is a highlight for the refugee communities within Beirut.
The only opportunity for competitive football for most of the players, it provides teams with the chance to test themselves against their peers.
Whilst fiercely contested, the tournaments promote social cohesion and provide opportunities for strengthened relationships within the refugee community, between camps and different nationalities. In addition, the weekend provides an escape from the harsh reality of everyday life; the level of excitement and joy has to be seen to be believed.
Before Future Academy arrived, Akram (aged 13) had never been to school. He knew three English words: hello, yes and Neymar. Akram quickly became our keenest student: first to arrive and last to leave, clutching his homework. He loves word searches, writing on the board and homework. Akram is nearly double the age of some of his classmates but he’s not bothered – in fact, the opposite – he’s appointed himself as an unofficial mentor for the younger students.
One year later he’s holding a list of some of the many words he’s learnt; he also knows Neymar is a proper noun and doesn’t really count as English vocabulary! Akram is still the first to arrive and the last to leave; he loves school.
Then one Monday, Akram missed his first class ever. He still hadn’t returned to class by Friday, so we searched for him. We discovered he’d got a job to help support his family; he was working in a clothes shop seven days a week, so he couldn’t come to school anymore. Sadly this is the reality for some of our children; we can choose to accept it or we can fight. At Future Academy we fight: before every lesson Chris delivers worksheets and materials to the shop where, in between customers, Akram completes his worksheets and word searches. Akram is a resourceful teenager and is desperate to come to school. Sometimes he is able to take a break or can find someone to cover for him; on these occasions he is now the last to arrive at school (out of breath, because he has run all the way) and first to leave – but still clutching his homework. Difficult situations require different solutions: our after school club will become a lifeline to Akram and others like him, as he will be able to continue his education after work