The Ministry of Education and Higher Education launch the National Policy on Inclusive Education for Children with Special Needs in partnership with the European Union and UNICEF
Beirut, 20 June 2023 – To ensure inclusive and quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE), with funds from the European Union and in collaboration with the Centre for Educational Research and Development (CERD), launched in partnership with UNICEF, the National Policy on Inclusive Education for Children with Special Needs in Lebanon.
The event was headed by the Minister of Education and Higher Education, Abbas Halabi, EU’s Head of Cooperation in Lebanon, Alessandra Viezzer, UNICEF representative in Lebanon, Edouard Beigbeder, and was attended by education sector representatives, partners, NGOs and paraprofessionals.
The policy, financed by the European Union and Education Cannot Wait, aims to provide a national framework for an inclusive education implementation in Lebanon, based on the lessons learned from the Inclusive Education Pilot Programme and international best practices.
Minister Al-Halabi said: "We meet today with the educational family and international partners, to launch the national policy for inclusive education, because we believe that through an inclusive school, we will reach an inclusive Lebanon. Every social development begins in school, so how about it starts through the curriculum and school’s activities. The launch of the national policy for inclusive education is a turning point in the education sector in Lebanon and a starting point for enacting laws and decrees that protect and guarantee the right of every child in Lebanon to education and access to inclusive education and quality education to build an inclusive nation." He also pointed that "Today’s achievement was possible through the support of each of the implementation partners, from UNICEF, the European Union and the Education Does Not Wait Foundation, and thanks to all our education partners who worked to achieve this policy."
Creating sustainable and inclusive learning environment for children with special needs gives them the opportunity to thrive where their contributions are recognized, valued and respected. The Policy will guide teachers to create disability-inclusive learning environments that provide full equitable access to the curriculum, with all the necessary support, to all learners in schools. It covers both public and private education institutions across Lebanon from kindergarten to the 12th grade across all regions. This policy is concluded by a road map that CERD is currently working on through a specialized committee formed for this purpose, within the framework of the existing workshop, to prepare an advanced inclusive curriculum.
Alessandra Viezzer, Head of Cooperation at the European Union to Lebanon said: “The policy aims to create an inclusive environment within public schools where every child can learn, thrive, and realize their full potential regardless of their abilities. It recognizes the rights to education and potential of each child in Lebanon to contribute meaningfully to society. We hope it will ensure no child is left behind from his or her education pathway.”
“UNICEF advocates for inclusive and equitable access to quality education for all children in Lebanon. Jointly with our partners, mainly the European Union, we aim at building a public education system where all children, including those with disabilities, can reach their full potential, growing up healthy, educated, protected from harm, heard, and engaged in their communities,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in Lebanon.
The Ministry of Education and Higher Education seeks to transform all public and private schools into inclusive schools by 2030 in alignment with its commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4. In 2022/2023, the Ministry provided education to around 3,000 children with disabilities in Lebanon's public inclusive education schools and is working on developing the Inclusive Education Policy as a critical initiative on equity and inclusion in education in Lebanon.
Inclusive education cannot only be achieved by the individual efforts of schools, principals, or teachers. Implementing the Policy will require coordinated efforts from MEHE, CERD, relevant government agencies, development partners, organizations of persons with special needs, universities, unions, and most importantly, learners, teachers, school leaders, parents, and the wider school community. A road map detailing the implementation and monitoring of the Policy will be developed collaboratively with key stakeholders.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org/lebanon/.