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700,000 out of 2m kids out of school in Lebanon

Palestinians school children at a refugee camp in Beirut, in Lebanon on 6 March 2012 {Mohammed Asad/Apaimages]
Palestinians school children at a refugee camp in Beirut, in Lebanon on 6 March 2012 [Mohammed Asad/Apaimages]

The Centre for Lebanese Studies has called on donor governments to address the unprecedented education crisis in Lebanon at a funding conference in Brussels today.

This includes putting pressure on Lebanon to change policies preventing aid reaching schools and on the education ministry to end restrictions on access to schooling for refugee students.

School principals have "arbitrarily rejected" Syrian students for reasons such as not having the correct documentation including legal residency or because their schools were full.

However, school monitoring found that most schools did have the capacity to take more students at the time, reports Human Rights Watch.

In Lebanon, at least 700,000 of two million children are out of school and public schools have been shut for hundreds and thousands of Lebanese and Syrian students for three school years.

In some parts of the country child labour has risen to 45 per cent. UNICEF has reported on the rise in child marriage, abuse and child labour as a way for families to make money.

READ: 60% of Lebanese expats have voted

Since 2019 demonstrations against government corruption, the Beirut port explosion, the COVID-19 pandemic, xenophobia and the teachers' strike have all contributed towards the continued closure of schools.

With the depreciation of the pound in Lebanon, teachers' salaries have fallen to roughly $100 a month which is not enough to pay for the rising cost of fuel.

Since January public school teachers have been on an open-ended strike demanding higher wages.

Parents also struggle to buy fuel to take their children to school whilst schools themselves struggle to heat the building and pay for electricity.

"Children in Lebanon can't afford having another year of education stolen from them by government bungling and an international community that shrugs at bad results," Associate Children's Rights Director at HRW Bill Van Esveld said.

"At minimum, donors at the Brussels conference should set out the specific steps that Lebanese authorities need to take to fulfill the right to education."

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