Secondary Education Institute

The Alsama Education Institute Provides:

Education – we are the first – and often only – source of education for our students, providing 12 years of education in just 6 years.

Empowerment – we keep children off the streets streets and out of crime, early marriage & child-bearing.

Leadership through sport – we use cricket as a unique way to build both physical and mental strength.

Overview – The Beginnings – Our Future Aspirations

In November 2020 the first Alsama Secondary Education Institute opened its doors to 200 out-of-school refugee boys and girls aged 12-24 in the Shatila refugee camp.

Only 11 months earlier Alsama had began in January 2020 in Shatila as a small girls’ empowerment centre, teaching awareness, cricket, and yoga to a few dozen refugee teenage girls.

Many of the girls could barely read and write. But it didn’t take long and they had caught the scent of education, wanting more. They asked us to teach them English, to help them to budget, to properly learn to read and write their mother tongue, Arabic. So we established an education institute.

In March 2022 we opened up our second educational institute in Bourj el Barajneh camp in Beirut. This centre initially started with 80 students in its classrooms, but now has expanded its capacity to support 200 pupils. And in April 2023, we opened our second institute in Shatila. Now, we have 3 schools teaching 660 students 44 weeks of the year.

The students receive 5 hours each of Arabic, English and Maths every week, in addition to Yoga, IT, awareness/empowerment classes, poetry and English reading support. The classes are grouped by ability, not age and are taught using our innovative curriculum that provides 12 years of education in just 6 years. With a rigorous assessment calendar, we track student progress and are proud to say that 100% of our students show considerable academic improvement across all subjects.

Why Lebanon?

  • Lebanon has the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world – almost 1 in every 5 people in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee.
  • Lebanon is 4 years deep into what the World Bank has called ‘an economic and financial crisis that is among the worst the world has ever seen’.
  • ​90% of Syrian refugee families live in extreme poverty, and many live in old, overcrowded Palestinian refugee camps, for example, Shatila.
  • The camp was originally built to host 3,000 Palestinian refugees, but now houses 40 000 people on one square km.
  • If Alsama succeeds in Lebanon, we can succeed anywhere.

Why teenagers?

  • ​More than 50% of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon aged 3-18 are out of school, most of them at secondary school age
  • 41 % of young displaced Syrian women are married before 18. Given that many marriages are unregistered, these figures may, in fact, be much higher.
  • 35% of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon aged 5 to 18 are forced into child-labour.

What makes the Alsama Teenager Education Institute different?

  • Impact-orientation, with clear performance metrics & an agile ability to pivot towards what works (and away from what does not). Check out our impact to date.
  • Close relationships & understanding with and of each of our students & their capabilities, because of our intensive multi-faceted programmes. We teach 44 weeks of the year and command extraordinary attendance rates (>95% across all our schools) –  most students “have to be told to go home at the end of the day; they just want to stay even longer”.
  • High bar on quality of education – we work closely with a leading global consulting firm, use challenging education curriculum & assessments, and rely on volunteers who themselves come from some of the best universities & companies globally.
  • Contributions to the Lebanese community – e.g. Alsama students & staff supported relief efforts after the Beirut port explosion; we help to sustain Lebanese schools through sponsorship of our excellence students to first-class Lebanese schools and support some of their mothers with employment opportunities in the Studio.
  • No frills bootstrapping approach – our HQ is a small room in the Shatila school, key leadership roles are unpaid, and we raise funds conservatively. Our ‘per student’ annual cost of US $891 is 77% of the global average of US$1,151. This  comes to less than 1 dollar per hour (the school stays open for 44 weeks).
  • Respect from within the community, as evidenced by the fact that students come to Alsama for the education (not stipends or lunches), by the waitlist of over 2,730 students eager to join Alsama’s Education Institute, and by the 605 non-student girls & women who have come to Alsama for support so far.

I will break the chains that have held me back for such a long time. And I will rebel against the barriers of silence that prevented me from my dreams. I will cross the great ocean of life with my small paper boat. Knowledge and hope will be my oaths. I live if I exist and I will live my life and learn as long as I live.

Alaa, 17, Alsama student, Shatila

The Cost

In order to educate one student for a year it costs £731/$891. This is 77% of the global average of US$1,151 per student/per annum (as forecasted for 2024 by the World Bank, UNHCR) and comes to less than 1 dollar per hour (the school stays open for 44 weeks).

How you can help us

By donating £75 / $90 a month, you can give a refugee teenager the most powerful tool for change: an education.

Please contact for the details on how to set up a standing order.

Or simply set up your monthly recurring donation by clicking through to our donation page. Thank you.

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