UNRWA handled the regulation of the education process for Palestine refugees, considering that this is one of its main responsibilities identified by the international resolution upon the agency’s establishment. However, given that UNRWA is unable to meet all the needs of Palestine refugees in this regard, Palestinian households are starting to opt for other available choices, such as Lebanese public schools, private schools and private free schools, alongside all the burdens that come along with each of these choices. Some of these burdens are affordable, in a limited manner, by some families while others force Palestinian households to head towards religious and civil institutions, or towards institutions belonging to political parties, in order to cover the educational requirements.

In parallel with the educational role carried out by UNRWA, there is no presence of any role played by a Palestinian official authority that regulates and participates in the education process, from pre-school to higher education. UNRWA schools use the curricula adopted by governments of the hosting countries, according to the standards of the UNESCO. Therefore, UNRWA schools in Lebanon are implementing the Lebanese official curricula, and its pupils are sitting for the official exams just like all other Lebanese pupils.

There isn’t any law that determines the rights of the Palestinian students in terms of education in Lebanon. The issue is restricted to circulars yearly issued by the Minister of Education and Higher Education during the seasonal academic enrollment at the beginning of the school year. According to the circular issued by the Minister of Education and Higher Education on September 18, 2014 no. 25/M/2014 to all principals of public schools (Cycles 1, 2 and 3), the latter principals are requested to restrict the admission of non-Lebanese students to basic education only (cycles 1, 2 and 3) according to the following order:


  • Non-Lebanese students (old and new) born of a Lebanese mother.
  • Students holding no identification papers and having Lebanese origins: After obtaining the approval of the General Directorate of Education regarding their situation upon referrals by the concerned schools in accordance with the administrational hierarchy.
  • Non-Lebanese students (old and new) whose relatives hold residency permits issued by the General Security and valid on the date of the enrolment application.
  • Palestinian students who have been residing in Lebanon for over three years. Old and new students to whom there isn’t any available UNRWA school within their residency areas.

In addition to regulating the education of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA engaged in vocational education and training since 1961, through establishing the Siblin Training Center relating to the vocational training and rehabilitation in the area of Chouf / Mount Lebanon. It then expanded these activities through the establishment of a second vocational center in North Lebanon, with both centers taking in approximately 1200 students.

The Palestinian students in higher education are distributed on the institutions of higher education in both public and private sectors. While the Lebanese University tuitions are considered a solution to ensure equality of the Palestinian pupils with the Lebanese students in the Bachelor, Masters and Doctorate degrees, private higher education is available only based on a number of conditions, most importantly the financial capacities required to cover the annual tuition fees.

The Lebanese University represented a destination to a large number of Palestinian students, whereby no legal or administrational obstacles hindered them from benefitting from its educational services within its different faculties and institutes. In the Lebanese University, Palestinian students and Lebanese students are equally treated in terms of fees. Palestinians are entitled to enroll in its different faculties and institutes according to specific rules regulating the institutes. However, it is relevant to notice that the biggest rate of Palestinian students are attending the faculties that do not impose entrance exams. Furthermore, the capacity to practice the profession that the graduates will be undertaking during their studies plays an important role in choosing their major.

In view of the decline of scholarships granted to undergraduate Palestinian students, the educational support funds for Palestinian students are making unremitting efforts to secure college education loans to as many Palestinian students in Lebanon as possible. The most prominent and active educational support funds to Palestinians in Lebanon are presented as follows:

1.      “Palestinian Students Fund”

2.      “President Mahmoud Abbas Fund”

3.      International and Arab Donors


Number of Palestinian students by school type


UNRWA schools

Private free schools

Private schools

Public schools

Academic year





































Source: Lebanese Republic, Center for Educational Research and Development (CERD), statistical leaflets.

According to AUB and UNRWA studies for 2010, UNRWA schools are the ones that most accommodate poor Palestinian students.

Source: UNRWA/AUB study, 2010

Distribution of Palestinian students in UNRWA schools by educational stage (2012-2013)




Pre-elementary school









Palestinian Students’ Guide in the Lebanese Educational InstitutionsSince school can de dubbed as the chief social institution vested in instructing and tutoring future generations, empowering them with the means to help themselves and their communities, light had to be shed on the Lebanese government’s contribution, via the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, in streamlining and improving the educational process. The aim is to provide education to Palestinian students and prepare them for practical life, to be able to work on the improvement of the Palestinian community in Lebanon.

The community in general, and the Palestinian community in particular, are the main beneficiaries of the educational system’s success. Seeking to promote an insightful generation well-aware of its educational, social or national responsibilities in serving the Palestinian cause and fulfilling the Right to Return, the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC) considered the STUDENT as the main element in planning its educational action.

Therefore, it was crucial to answer all the questions raised by Palestinian students (and families) to overcome any impediment that could hinder their education in Lebanese educational institutions, as well as explain all the administrative requirements, so as to clarify the role of the Lebanese Ministry of Education in fostering their educational proficiency based on clear-cut and precise information, through the “Palestinian Students’ Guide in the Lebanese Educational Institutions” published by LPDC and provided to Palestinian students and their families in March 2012.