Lebanon is facing an unprecedented economic crisis compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 Beirut Port Blast. This quantitative country-wide study analyses data collected from 26 schools and 372 households of children enrolled in AVSI educational activities, both inside and outside the classroom, to show the impact of the crisis on school-aged Lebanese and refugee children. It explores child protection issues, transportation to school, online learning, power provision, food security, and preparedness for the next academic year.
The study findings present an alarming situation regarding children’s well-being and their access to education. The quality of learning offered in schools has declined significantly, with the number of teaching weeks and access to in-presence and distance learning directly affected. One in three children struggles to reach school and has already skipped learning, while teaching personnel also struggle with transportation. Extended power cuts have made remote learning nearly impossible, with households in Akkar reporting less than three hours of electricity a day on average.
COVID-19 lockdown measures adversely affected children’s well-being, sparking increased stress, anger, and difficulties in socializing. Child labor rates reached a dramatic peak in 2021, with one in three households in Akkar having a working child. Across Lebanon, an average of 15 percent of surveyed households reported having a working child. Food-related negative coping mechanisms were documented in three in four households as a consequence of decreased purchasing power.
Against this worrisome framework, schools are not equipped for the upcoming academic year. Many students from private and semi-private schools have flooded public schools in a trend that is expected to increase, further straining an overstretched public school system. School dropouts have increased in 2021, and challenges with sustaining school-related costs will likely exacerbate this problem in the next school year. Considering this rapidly changing context, flexible and innovative approaches are essential to support access to quality and inclusive education in Lebanon.