Education Champion Network

Fadi Hallisso

Co-founder and CEO, Basmeh & Zeitooneh Champion since 2017
“Everyone deserves a fair chance in life — education is the best tool for refugees to get their chance.”
Helping out-of-school Syrian girls catch up on missed lessons so they can resume their formal education

The Issue

Because Syrian refugees are often out of school for long periods of time, if they are able to reenter the classroom, many students find catching up on the years they missed too difficult and abandon their education. Language barriers also make it difficult for refugee girls to resume their education in their new host country. These challenges contribute to high rates of out-of-school Syrian refugee students in the region. In Lebanon, 42% of Syrian refugee children are out of school. In Turkey, around 37% of Syrian refugee children are out of school. 

Fadi’s approach

Community Advocacy

It has been years since Fadi last saw his home in Aleppo, Syria. The former civil engineer was pursuing a career as a Jesuit priest in Lebanon when the conflict back home escalated. Seeing the Syrian death toll rise drove Fadi to action. In 2012, he left the priesthood to co-found the organisation Basmeh & Zeitooneh (B&Z), which supports Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Turkey. As Fadi and his co-founder are from Syria, they are able to build trust with refugee communities because they understand the local context and traditions. 

Using his Malala Fund grant, Fadi helped Syrian refugee girls continue their education and access quality education by offering retention support and advocating for the removal of barriers to their education. Through retention support programmes in their learning centres, B&Z teaches Syrian refugee girls Arabic, English, math, science, literacy and Turkish to prepare them to reenrol in formal education. With B&Z, Fadi also researches the barriers preventing refugee children from learning and publishes reports with recommendations for policymakers and international stakeholders to address these changes. 

Fadi is working with his fellow Lebanese Education Champions to develop lessons for the digital learning platform Tabshoura in a Box aimed at helping refugee students in middle school pass the Brevet exam, a national exam students need to take to continue with secondary education.

Fadi’s impact

Through their learning centres, Fadi and his organisation reached 700 Syrian and other vulnerable children in Gaziantep and Shatila camp in Beirut with their Malala Fund grant.  

With Malala Fund support, Basmeh & Zeitooneh conducted three research and advocacy reports on the challenges facing school-aged Syrian children, which they shared with 100 organisations, including civil society, coordination meetings, the ministries, as well as donors at the Brussels III support meeting to influence decision-making around education for refugees. 

More about Fadi

Organization's Facebook: Basmeh & Zeitooneh
Organization's Twitter: @basmehzeitooneh

There are 2 other Education Champions working in Lebanon.