Toronto, August 17 2022 – Today, Save the Children welcomed the Minister of International Development of Canada, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, and the Ambassador of Canada to Lebanon, Chantal Chastenay, to the Mouvement Social Center in Saida, Lebanon. The center is supported by Save the Children through the Education Cannot Wait (ECW) fund that ensures that vulnerable children are supported to learn despite the multiple crises affecting them and their families.
During this visit, Minister Sajjan met with youth participating in education activities conducted at the center and discussed the challenges they are facing while trying to access education and employment opportunities during the crisis in Lebanon. He also engaged with a group of teachers who shared their experiences and perspectives on the impact of Lebanon’s multiple crises on the quality of education in the country. Both the teachers and students repeatedly raised the hardships posed by the economic crisis, including the incredibly high cost of transportation and internet and telephone access, that are now priced well out of their reach. Over the last three years, Lebanon has experienced multiple crises that have impacted every aspect of children’s lives and especially their access to quality education. COVID-19 related school closures, and a persisting economic crisis have kept over 700,000 children out of school with enrolment in educational institutions having dropped to 43% in the last academic year. This year will mark a 4th consecutive school year of many children missing out on education, threating their futures.
Lebanon’s education crisis is affecting children from all communities – Lebanese, refugee, and migrant children. Many families are unable to afford education related expenses especially the cost of transportation to school that has sky-rocketed. Frequent teacher strikes due to inflation and delayed payments, and the inability for many schools to afford to keep schools lit, heated or equipped with basic learning materials has made learning even more inaccessible. For refugee children, additional barriers including lack of documentation and other administrative barriers to registration in schools.
The Mouvement Social Center in Saida is supported by Education Cannot Wait (ECW), a global fund for education in crisis and emergencies. Canada is ECW’s sixth largest donor and has invested over USD 62 million in the fund to date. In Lebanon, ECW has made a seed funding investment of USD 12 million for the period of 2022 –2024 aimed at targeting 875,000 vulnerable school-aged girls and boys. The ECW Multi-Year Resilience Programme for Lebanon still requires USD 38 million to deliver on its strategic plan. “ECW’s investment in Lebanon’s education has come at a critical time when investment in Lebanon children and young people is urgently needed. Children in Lebanon have lost 3 years of education and are at risk of losing yet another year. It will take everyone working together to respond to this worsening crisis.” This is according to Save the Children Lebanon’s Country Director Jennifer Moorehead who further called for increased financial and technical support to Lebanon’s education sector to ensure that all children are able to access quality education.
Canada has a long history of championing the importance of education for children in crisis. In 2018 Canada led the historic Charlevoix Declaration on Quality Education for Girls, Adolescent Girls, and Women in Developing Countries. This initiative leveraged CAD $3.8B from G7 and other partners and Canada’s investment of $400 million has reached four million girls and women across 55 projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Canada continued their leadership on education by launching the Together for Learning Campaign in 2021. This campaign promotes quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for refugee and other forcibly displaced and host community children and youth.
Save the Children Canada’s President and CEO Danny Glenwright says, “The right to education is fundamental for every child’s wellbeing. Yet, right now it is estimated that 222 million children and adolescents affected by emergencies and protracted crises are in urgent need of education support. This includes more than 700,000 children in Lebanon that missed out on education during the last school year. At the same time, needs are rising and so are funding gaps. This makes Canada’s championing of education for children in crisis more vital and impactful than ever.”
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