The crises that hit Lebanon in 2019 put severe strains on an already struggling educational system. As the country slips deeper, it is turning into an education catastrophe that is leading to a gap in access to quality learning among Lebanon’s poorer children, as many families cannot afford access to education.
“It’s hard to be optimistic regarding the future of education during this ongoing crisis. The education sector is under threat as many of Lebanon’s children risk dropping out of school,” said Director of BESGB, Samer Jamal.
As part of an emergency intervention and as a response to the ongoing crisis and deterioration of the sector of education, Heart for Lebanon foresaw the growing challenges and provided scholarships for hundreds of students in 6 Christian Evangelical schools for the academic years of 2019-2022. The scholarship program at Heart for Lebanon helps students gain access to education and complete it by providing financial support. Beirut Evangelical School for Girls and Boys (BESGB) has been part of the scholarship program for the past 2 years. Founded in 1835, it is one of the oldest schools in Lebanon. “We are striving to keep the academic level high; it is a struggle, but such donations, as received from Heart for Lebanon, keep us going,” Jamal said.
According to Mr. Jamal, the challenges were many and overwhelming at the beginning of 2021-2022.
“The learning gap due to untrained personnel on remote learning post COVID-19 on one hand, the economic crisis and the prices that have been on a rise which led to shortage of fuel, books, and educational supplies on the other hand means more than 80% of the parents aren’t able to cover the full tuition fees. The financial issue is a big deal especially that most of the parent’s salaries are now worth nothing in Lebanese Lira, and we were forced to increase the tuition fees by 100%, which still does not cover most of the school expenses. It’s a dilemma!”
However, on the bright side “Heart for Lebanon helped 100 students in our school by providing 3 million Lebanese Lira to each student which is equivalent to cover a monthly pay-roll for our staff,” added the Director of BESGB. “There are 1030 students in our school. This absolutely was a big support for a big percentage of the families. They applied for a financial aid form, and we made an assessment accordingly to choose the 100 students. Families were thrilled by the support; they really appreciated the help and saw it as a drop of hope in the midst of this crisis. Those families are in desperate need of help,” emphasized Director Jamal.
“As a Christian Evangelical school, we have a mission of not leaving any of our students out of school. This is part of our values and ethics and although it puts more financial pressure on us, this shows the love of Jesus Christ, and we cannot do it any other way. Heart for Lebanon’s support helped us keep our values,” concluded Samer Jamal.
The compounded crises in Lebanon affected the education sector deeply. The Lebanese schools and staff have been exceptionally heroic throughout all this, as they are fighting to make ends meet whilst facing an extremely limited capacity to continue striving; only donations are assisting them during these hard times.