Lebanese Education Ministry and foreign donor officials meeting on September 13, 2023, to discuss financing for the new school year should reach an agreement that opens schools without interruption and averts a disastrous fifth year of lost learning for students, Human Rights Watch said today. The Education Ministry has still not secured sufficient funding for the school year set to begin in October, and Lebanese and donor officials are at loggerheads over funding for some teachers’ salaries.
The Lebanese cabinet approved US$50 million (5 trillion Lebanese pounds) in August for the Education Ministry, out of a $150 million budget request. It is unclear when the funds will be transferred. The caretaker education minister said the funds would keep schools open only for three to four months, leaving at least four months unfunded. International donor funding is crucial for public schools, which teach both Lebanese and Syrian refugee children, but donors have not said how much funding they will provide for the coming school year.
“Over the last four years, school closures in Lebanon have pushed over a million Syrian and Lebanese children to the brink,” said Bill Van Esveld, associate children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “If the government and foreign donors don’t reach an agreement that will keep schools open, Lebanon is looking at a children’s rights catastrophe.” (...) More