More children drop out of schools in Lebanon: report
Enrollment has fallen while dropout rates have grown due to the closure of Lebanon’s schools following coronavirus outbreak, official figures revealed.
Experts worry that many are being forced into child labour, especially refugee children from Syria whose families find themselves in some of the most precarious socio-economic situations.
As it stands the number of Syrians enrolled in primary schools this year is about 190,600, down from 196,238 last year and 206,061 the year before, according to statistics from the Education Ministry.
Speaking to L’Orient Today Sonia Khoury, who oversees education for Syrian students in Lebanon's education ministry, said more than 30,000 Syrian children did not return to school this year.
At the end of 2020, 19% of Lebanese nationals and 21% of Syrian refugees had reported the loss of their main sources of income. As a result, the proportion of Syrian refugees living in extreme poverty reached a staggering 89 percent, up from 55% in 2019.
This has been decried by rights groups who say the local government has not done enough.
"After years of donors’ promises to support quality education for all Syrian refugee children, the majority of Syrian children in Lebanon are getting nothing, the government’s plan is a mystery, and it is tying humanitarian groups’ hands with red tape and inexcusable obstacles," said Lotte Leicht, EU director at Human Rights Watch.
"The Brussels conference donors need to confront this scandalous situation and insist on maximum access to education and accountability for harmful restrictions."
Many refugee families experience food insecurity, which means they can often pull their children out from school and get them to work to provide for the family, studies by the International Rescue Committee have shown.
Due to the economic situation in Lebanon, where widespread protests and numerous political deadlocks have rocked the country since 2019, even families of Lebanese children are no longer able to keep them in school, and many who once could afford private schools, can no longer afford the pricey fees.
For this reason, during the 2020–21 academic year, 273,500 Lebanese children enrolled in public primary schools, which is significantly up from 230,584 last year and 219,445 the year before, statistics show.
As a result of the financial crisis that hit the country in Autumn 2019, the Lebanese lira has lost more than 80 percent of its value leading to food inflation recorded at a staggering 402%.