For Lebanese children, attending school could become a distant dream
Over 1.2 million children in the country have been out of school since the pandemic, last year
Children, who couldn't attend school for several months in Lebanon due to covid-19 restrictions, may never return to a class. More than 1.2 million children in Lebanon have been out of school since the corona virus outbreak last year, as per a UK-based charity Save the Children. Those lucky enough to get any schooling received "an estimated maximum of 11 weeks of education," with even lower numbers for Syrian children, the NGO said.
Reeling under the economic impact from years of internal war and now, the pandemic, more than half of the families in the country are living in poverty. It's not just children from Lebanese families, the impact will severe among thousands of Palestinian and Syrian refugees, who have already struggled to access education before Lebanon's multi-fold crisis made it more difficult, it said.
"The social and economic crisis in Lebanon is turning into an education catastrophe, with vulnerable children facing a real risk of never returning to school," warned the NGO.
"A large number of children may never get back into a classroom either because they have missed so much learning already or because their families can't afford to send them to school," said Jennifer Moorehead, the charity's Lebanon director. Many families are unable to afford learning equipment or have to rely on children to provide an income, she noted.
Meanwhile, the country's worst economic downturn since the 1975-1990 civil war has made "remote learning out of reach for more and more children", with families unable to afford electronic devices and a reliable-enough internet connection. It cited the example of 11-year-old Adam, who shares a smartphone with his two sisters and has to go next door to access the internet.
"We are already witnessing the tragic impact of this situation, with children working in supermarkets or in farms, and girls forced to get married," she said.
The country's crisis has shown no signs of slowing down, with the Lebanese pound losing more than 85% of its value against the dollar on the black market in a devaluation that has eaten away at people's purchasing power.