IOCC School Program to Address Needs of Lebanese Children

Baltimore, Md. (December 8, 2010) — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded $26.4 million to International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) for a program in Lebanon that will improve student achievement, expand after-school programs, provide training for public school teachers and upgrade educational facilities in 600 Lebanese public schools over the next four years. The program is part of a $75 million initiative that will be implemented in 1,400 schools in cooperation with the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education and five other agencies, including the Education Development Center which is managing the entire initiative for USAID.

“For nearly a decade, children have been an important focus of IOCC’s efforts in Lebanon in collaboration with the Orthodox Church and the Lebanese Government,” said His Eminence Metropolitan Philip (Saliba), Primate of the Antiochian Christian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. “This award validates the efforts we have steadfastly supported and ensures that the essential work of improving conditions for children and others that IOCC has undertaken in the Middle East with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch through its institutions, including the University of Balamand, will continue.”

During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, Lebanese children were some of the worst affected. Nearly one-third of all civilian deaths and injuries were suffered by children and over half a million children were forced to flee their homes. The conflict also damaged more than 300 schools. IOCC’s presence in Lebanon not only led to an immediate humanitarian response for those impacted by the violence, but also led to subsequent IOCC activities in rebuilding damaged schools.

The new program aims to improve public school education and extracurricular activities that are vital to healthy development and the academic success of children. The program also aims to improve student outcomes through teacher training as well as the repair and improvement of school buildings. Science and computer labs will also be equipped as part of the program.

“The lingering effects of conflict continue to affect children in Lebanon,” said Constantine M. Triantafilou, IOCC executive director. “We are pleased to have this opportunity to continue this important work and build upon our experience working with schools and communities in Lebanon.”

IOCC has extensive experience working in Lebanese schools. Over the past ten years, more than 75,000 students in over 450 public schools in Lebanon have benefitted from IOCC’s work there. The new program will build on models IOCC has developed to engage parents, community leaders, local businesses, and others to provide support for educational programs during and after school.

IOCC, founded in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), has implemented programs in more than 35 countries around the world.