Secondary Education Institute

The Alsama Education Institute provides:

Education – we are the first (or only) source of education in years for many of our students.

Empowerment – we keep children out of streets, 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.

The students now receive 5 hours of each Arabic, English and Math every week, in addition to Yoga, awareness/empowerment classes, poetry and English reading support. The classes are grouped by ability, not age. We teach specially created curricula for teenagers who have missed most of their primary school education. Moreover, we have assessed the pupils and our goal is for them to reach the official Lebanese Brevet level within 3 – 5 years (depending on ability and age).

We currently have a waiting list of 200 additional students in Shatila. We also would like to expand our empowerment centre in the Bourj al Barajneh camp in Beirut for 100 girls to an education institute for 200 girls and boys.


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.
  • ​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– e.g. recent decision to focus on perfecting our centresin Shatila& Borj before scaling).
  • Close relationships & understanding with and of each of our students & their capabilities, because of our intensive multi-faceted programmes(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 & through registration for Brevet with Lebanese state schools.
  • 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 ofUS $865 are 82% of the global average of US$1,0511. 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 Alsamafor the education (not stipends or lunches) by the waitlist of 600 families eager to join Alsama’s Education Institute, and by the 380 (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

McKinsey 3rd party assessment on education impact

The Cost

In order to educate one student for a year it costs £632/$865. This is 82% of the global average of US$1,0511 per student/per annum (as reported 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 £55 / $75 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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