In Lebanon, Bibliothèques Sans Frontières and the local NGO Amel set up three Ideas Box kits in Haret-Hreik, south of Beirut, as well as in Kamid el-Loz and Khiam this spring. With the support of the French Development Agency, the media libraries in kit form reinforce access to education, autonomy, and social cohesion of both host and refugee communities in a context of unprecedented health, economic and political crisis.
Interview with Agustin Galli, BSF’s program coordinator in the Middle East, and Aya G. Khoury, Ideas Box project coordinator at Amel.
In Lebanon, more than 1.2 million children have been taken out of school because of the health crisis, according to the NGO Save the Children. Deprived of school for more than a year, many of them never returned because of the they fell too far back or parents experienced economic challenges. As for the Lebanese children still in school, they have benefited from only eleven weeks of education over the 2020-2021 academic year. The school failure rate and the risk of dropping out are a real threat to their future.
In addition to the lack of access to education due to the pandemic, there is also a deep economic crisis that is increasing the inequalities between the inhabitants. The country has still not recovered from the explosion at the port of Beirut on 4 August 2020, which killed more than 200 people and devastated entire neighbourhoods. In the last year year, the Lebanese currency has seen its been devalued tenfold.
“Due to fuel shortages, many gas stations did not open for several months. At the ones that were open, the queues were endless: sometimes people had to wait up to five hours to fill up. As for electricity, people have it for about two to three hours a day. You can imagine where education is relegated… the needs are immense!” Agustin Galli.
“The situation is making it increasingly difficult for all strata of the population to access education. With the 70% increase in the price of fuel this summer, many parents can no longer afford to pay for their children’s school trips because the price of the trip to school has become higher than the price of schooling. This is one of the major factors that explains the de-schooling.” Aya G. Khoury.
Faced with this situation, BSF and Amel have set up a large project to strengthen the quality of and access to education for Lebanese youth and contribute to their psychosocial well-being. To this end, we deployed three Ideas Box kits in three centers managed by Amel to diversify and strengthen the quality and impact of the educational activities carried out by the NGO in Kamid el-Loz, Khiam, and Haret-Hreik south of Beirut.