Printed on Thu Jun 30 2022 5:26:30 PM

"Lebanon faces Education Crisis"

International desk
lebanon education
Lebanon is grappling with an education "crisis," a United Nations official said, as years of economic collapse weigh heavily on students and teachers.

"We are now in an emergency situation. Education in Lebanon is in crisis because the country is living in crisis," Maysoun Chehab of the UN education and culture body (UNESCO) told AFP.

She spoke on the sidelines of an occasion Monday celebrating the completion of a $35-million UNESCO project to rehabilitate 280 education centers damaged by a 2020 blast.

The explosion caused by haphazardly stored fertilizer at Beirut port killed more than 200 people, annihilated wraps of the capital, and disrupted the education of at least 85,000 young people.

UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay visited Beirut weeks later, driving efforts to restore heritage sites and damaged schools.

Students and teachers now have brand new classrooms but they are still suffering from the twin impacts of an unprecedented economic crisis in Lebanon and the coronavirus pandemic.

Since late 2019, the Lebanese pound has lost over 90 percent of its worth, pushing most of the population into poverty.

"This is all affecting the quality of education."

The minimum wage once worth $450 is now valued at $28.

The crisis has forced students to quit school or university to make ends meet.

Enrolment in educational institutions slumped from 60% last year to 43% in the current academic year, a UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) report found.

Support has been to a great extent restricted to compassionate guides.

UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Stefania Giannini, however, said she was optimistic the international community will keep supporting education in Lebanon.

"I know the economic crisis is still very much affecting (the country), but I am also confident Lebanon will not be left behind in the bigger picture of crises in the world."

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