Right to Play in Lebanon
Right To Play has been serving at-risk children and youth in Lebanon since 2006. We began by providing support to Palestinian refugees, and have since expanded to also support displaced Syrians, and Lebanese children and youth from vulnerable communities. We work with local partners to promote positive educational outcomes, psychosocial well-being, physical health, and critical life skills. We also build the capacity of civil society organizations and grassroots youth groups to use different forms of play to foster and sustain social change.
Lebanon is a small country that boasts high levels of human development and tertiary education. While it successfully achieved important Millennium Development Goal targets in health and education, Lebanon has experienced a series of crises that have exacerbated underlying fragilities and have significantly impacted the well-being of children and youth.
Lebanon is at the forefront of the Syrian crisis, now in its tenth year. While Lebanon remains committed to hosting refugees from the region, including more than 1.5 million displaced Syrians and more than 200,000 Palestinian refugees, the conflict in Syria has had detrimental impacts on Lebanon’s social and economic development. With an erosion in the availability and quality of services and competition for employment, social tensions have increased at the local level. These impacts have been compounded by the economic emergency declared in September 2019, the spread of COVID-19, and the deadly Beirut Blast in August 2020.
- More than 50% of Lebanese children and adolescents suffer from anxiety and 13% have suffered from depression.
- Only 69% of displaced Syrian children living in Lebanon attended school in 2019.
- Only 5% of refugee youth have participated in life skills or similar training, and just 9% in cultural or sports training.
- More than 83% of students in grades 2 and 3 performed in the lowest quartile on reading, and 10% of grade 2 children could not read a single word.
Right To Play works with the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to improve the quality of education delivered in public schools located in communities with high numbers of Syrian refugees, as well as in UNRWA schools.
Right To Play trains primary school teachers on how to create child-centered, play-based and positive learning environments that help children develop to their full potential and achieve expected national curriculum outcomes. We reinforce improved teaching practice through the establishment of peer support mechanisms and by training school leadership and supervisors on coaching, mentoring, and the principles of play-based learning.
Significant numbers of older children in Lebanon do not attend school, and almost one third of youth are unemployed. Right To Play offers youth opportunities for quality informal education at the community level. The programs teach life skills like leadership, cooperation, critical thinking and problem-solving. We have placed a particular emphasis on opportunities for girls and young women by ensuring they have safe spaces to engage in sport and structured play activities, and by addressing specific cultural barriers towards the inclusion of girls in sport.
In 2019, Right To Play began a strategic partnership with SAT-7 to broadcast Puzzle TV, a television game show that uses Right To Play games to provide youth with the skills needed to influence social change. Puzzle TV reaches an estimated viewership of one million children in Lebanon and five million in the wider region.
“When we first started, youth didn’t know how to communicate, they were continuously loud and arguing with each other, [sometimes] there was violence, they didn’t know how to express themselves or listen to others. But now if you sit with them, they are completely different, this is because of the life skills component. We could not do profiling or vocational training for them to even hold a saw if they didn’t have these skills, could not communicate, or did not trust us.” — GOAL program coach
Working jointly with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Right To Play has implemented programs at social development centres that help build youth’s leadership and employment skills. Right To Play equips at-risk Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian youth with practical skills to enter the job market by helping them better understand how their competencies align with employment opportunities, providing career counselling, and helping them develop social and emotional skills that help to increase resilience and self-confidence.
We also promote healthy lifestyles through physical fitness programs for younger children, helping to lay the groundwork for lifelong enjoyment of physical activity and health.
Teachers play a critical role in delivering quality education that helps improve learning outcomes. Right To Play trains teachers on child-centered, active learning and how to use structured games to deliver curriculum. We also support physical enhancements to classrooms and play spaces, and provide learning and play materials to schools. And we mobilize parents and communities to support children’s learning and address barriers to education, especially those that impede the enrollment of girls and children with disabilities.
We are scaling our partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to 120 public schools, placing a particular focus on digital learning, early reading, and enhancing teacher capacity to using play-based learning to promote reading skills.
Sport and creative play bring communities together. We give children and youth an opportunity to participate in structured music for development programs and other forms of play, which give them an opportunity to learn how to drive community advocacy on social issues they care about.
In partnership with the Silk Road Ensemble, Right To Play has trained young coaches to use music as a way to build community connection and cultural collaboration.
Through a football for development approach, we are also building the capacity of Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian youth to socialize, help others, and build relationships with youth of different backgrounds and nationalities.
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Right To Play follows a robust partnership model, working with institutional partners such as the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to promote positive educational outcomes, psychosocial wellbeing, physical health and critical life skills.
Right To Play programs in Lebanon are also supported by Asics, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, NORAD, the Silk Road Foundation, and supporters like you.