The number of Syrian refugee students who are actually enrolled in Lebanon’s public schools in the evening shift does not match the number that the Ministry of Education provides to international donors to obtain financial support, a Beirut-based television station recently reported.
The report, titled “Schools of Sand,” by Al Jadeed TV, a private television station with a reputation for investigative journalism that broadcasts in Arabic, accused successive Lebanese governments of misappropriating foreign aid funds provided by donor countries to educate Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The amount of money missing is estimated at up to $9 million annually since 2014.
“There is an unreal increase of at least 15,000 Syrian refugee students over the actual numbers enrolled in schools,” said Riad Kobaissi, the reporter who conducted the investigation.
So far, neither the Lebanese government nor any of the international donors have commented on Al Jadeed’s report.
Real Schools, False Numbers
Kobaissi started his investigation with the suspicion that there were a number of fake schools for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. He discovered, however, that there was no manipulation in the number of schools.
“The schools weren’t fake; they did exist,” he said. “But the number of students is not real.”
Kobaissi and his team worked for a whole year on two levels, first investigating on the ground and then reviewing and checking all data mentioned in related studies and official statements.
“I noticed a huge difference and contrast in the numbers of enrolled students,” Kobaissi said. “I started wondering, why don’t we manually count the students in every school?” Despite the difficulty of that task, he said he and his team manually counted the students by monitoring both the number of students and the number of buses going to the entrances at schools during evening shifts when Syrian students were attending.