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In Lebanon, a new bus fleet is helping thousands of kids go back to school

As kids around the world head back to school, it’s important to remember that, for some, just getting to school can be an insurmountable challenge.

In Lebanon, World Learning and its partners have tackled that challenge head-on. This year, thousands of children returned to school in a fleet of 100 new buses serving 100 public schools in 24 districts across the country. The buses were made possible due to a $4.6 million donation from the Quality Instruction Towards Access and Basic Education Improvement (QITABI) program.

Lebanon Minister of Education and Higher Education Marwan Hamade and U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard unveiled the new buses at a ceremony in July.

“These buses will support public schools to ensure a child-friendly environment, which also provides safe transportation for students across the country,” said Lebanon’s Minister of Education and Higher Education Marwan Hamade at an event unveiling the new buses.

Since 2014, QITABI has been strengthening the public education system in Lebanon. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and administered by World Learning, the $46.2 million initiative works to improve young students’ ability to read in Arabic, as well as bolster effective management practices, and expand access to education for students in schools across the country.

QITABI also works to alleviate the strains to the system resulting from the continuing inflow of Syrian refugee children into Lebanese public schools.

Lebanon Minister of Education and Higher Education Marwan Hamade and U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard unveiled the new buses at a ceremony in July. Lebanon Minister of Education and Higher Education Marwan Hamade and U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard unveiled the new buses at a ceremony in July. (Photo: World Learning)

Many of the students QITABI works with have difficulty accessing their education due to a lack of transportation options. Enrollment in public schools is especially challenging in Lebanon’s rural areas, which have underdeveloped transport systems. The new buses, which are already in use for the 2018–2019 academic year, will help 5,000 students from vulnerable families get to school.

The buses feature logos for the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in Lebanon.

QITABI unveiled the new bus fleet in a ceremony on July 24. The buses feature the USAID and Ministry of Education and Higher Education logos, as well as a unique design featuring the names of the schools they will benefit. QITABI will provide training on bus management, safety, and child protection awareness, and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education will operate and maintain the buses.

In her remarks at the unveiling, U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard noted that education is one of the most important factors in determining the future of a young person’s life. The school bus program, she said, is one of many ways the U.S. government intends to help vulnerable children, both Lebanese and Syrian, obtain that education.

“It will provide safe, reliable, and modern transportation system to get Lebanese children to school,” she said. “And I cannot think of a more important mission for us to be supporting.”

This article originally appeared in Medium.com on September 7, 2018.

World Learning is a global NGO empowering people and strengthening institutions through education, sustainable development, and exchange programs.

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