On 10 September 2014, Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO and H. E. Mr Okko Pekka Salmimies, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Finland to UNESCO signed an agreement, according to which Finland will contribute 200,000 euros in support of UNESCO’s Syria Crisis Response Programme in education “YES – Youth Education for Stability”.
The YES programme seeks to address neglected needs in terms of access to quality education for youth affected by the Syria crisis. In Lebanon, it is estimated than less than 10% of the age group 15 to 24 are enrolled in schools.
The funding will support the project “Enhancing Life and Work Skills for Youth in Lebanon Affected by the Syria Crisis”. Lebanon is currently hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees in the region. UNESCO’s activities will help to alleviate the unprecedented strain on the Lebanese education system. The acquisition and development of knowledge, skills and attitudes for life and work will support young learners in advancing their life and careers in their local communities, while also preparing them to contribute to reconstruction efforts in Syria. It will benefit 2,000 young Syrian learners aged between 13 and 24 (with a focus on age group of 13-15 years), as well as 1,000 Lebanese young people affected by the Syria crisis.
“I very much welcome this important contribution from Finland to UNESCO’s activities in response to the Syria crisis, which testifies to our increasing cooperation with Finland”, said the Director-General during the signing ceremony.
“Education has the power to give hope. This project will make a concrete contribution to alleviating the plight of Syrian refugees. Young people will have the chance to acquire knowledge and skills for life and work, enabling them to shape their future pro-actively and responsibly and to cope with the challenges they face”.
Ambassador Salmimies said that Finland is very pleased to build on its existing support to UNESCO, “together with the Agreement signed on 13 June 2014 in Helsinki, and the one recently signed in favour of literacy programmes for Afghanistan, this new agreement forms a coherent, mutually supportive package that lies within the heart of the Finnish development policy”, said the Ambassador.
The Ambassador went on to recall the importance of developing life and work skills, meeting the learning needs of teachers as well as creating an enabling learning environment. He stressed that UNESCO has unique added value in the area and Finland appreciated the opportunity of working with UNESCO in this field, especially in fragile states.
The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Ms. Anne Huhtamäki, Minister Counsellor, Deputy Permanent Representative of Finland to UNESCO and Mr. Aleksi Kalenius, Counsellor of Education and Science.