Generally the students that CEPAL works with are registered in UNRWA schools during the school year. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon registered with UNRWA have access to basic elementary (6 years), preparatory (4 years) and secondary (3 years) education. In order to successfully proceed through preparatory and secondary level education, and to be able to attend university, Palestinian students must obtain the same certificates as Lebanese students – the Brevet Certificate and Lebanese Baccalaureate Certificate of Secondary Education. Palestinian students must be able to successfully complete English and French language skills components of the certificate exams.
The four-year preparatory program is for children aged 11-14. At the end of the fourth year, preparatory students sit for the official brevet (intermediate certificate) exam. Upon the successful completion of the brevet exam, students are awarded the Brevet Certificate that allows them to continue to secondary level education.
The secondary level lasts three years, and is for student’s aged 15-17. It is divided into academic and technical tracks. Both tracks culminate in a one-part national examination known as the baccalaureate exam. Students who successfully complete secondary education receive the Lebanese Baccalaureate Certificate of Secondary Education, which qualifies them for admission to universities in Lebanon.
Limited access to comprehensive education for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon creates an environment where successful completion of the Brevet and Lebanese Baccalaureate Certificates is extremely difficult for Palestinian students. UNRWA schools in and around the camps operate on double shifts, meaning Palestinian students only attend school for half the day, and class sizes have burgeoned to over 40 students in some schools. The teaching component of CEPAL’s Summer Program therefore brings essential language training to Palestinian students, as requested by local NGO partners, and assists in their progression through the Lebanese educational system. In addition, the Summer Program gives Palestinian children and youth the opportunity to interact with Canadian volunteers and learn language skills in a fun and creative environment.