Before Lebanon’s severe financial crisis came, Faraj Faraj believed that attending university would put him on a route out of his tiny family home in a disadvantaged neighborhood of Beirut and into financial independence. He was wrong.
Instead, rising prices caused the 19-year-old, like an increasing number of Lebanon’s young people, to abandon his studies a little over a year ago, before completing his secondary education.
“I don’t have relatives who can help me finish my degree, and there isn’t any job,” he said, adding that, despite the fact that he was attending a public institution, the expense of transportation had become too expensive.
An international study released in January found that 30 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 24 in Lebanon had dropped out of school. According to the results of the poll, more young people are missing meals and spending less on health care.
They live between two rooms in a small apartment in Borj Hammoud, a neighborhood with narrow, crowded streets that was severely damaged by a massive explosion at the city’s port in 2020. Faraj, his parents, two unemployed brothers, and two younger sisters who are still in school share a small apartment in Borj Hammoud.
The coronavirus outbreak, as well as the port explosion, which left a scar on Beirut’s beachfront to this day, exacerbated what the World Bank has called as one of the biggest economic disasters in the country’s history, dating back to the mid-19th century.
While an elite earning wages in dollars continue to throng bars and cafés in expensive neighborhoods, poverty has increased to 80 percent of the population, and many people are unable to buy food and medication.
It was possible for Faraj and others to purchase stuff in the past, despite the challenges, she recalled. “Now that the crisis is having a greater impact on us, it’s simply food and drink.
With assistance from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Faraj is pursuing a career in the hairdressing industry as part of an initiative to assist youth in Lebanon who are struggling to make ends meet on earnings of roughly $2 per day for those who are able to find work.
As Alexandre Schein, director of UNICEF’s youth division in Lebanon, said, “Once a young person drops out at the ages of 13, 14, or 15, it’s quite difficult to get them back into school, and as a result, they join a very insecure labor market with a major lack of knowledge and skills.”
“The ramifications of this are that Lebanon will be unable to reconstruct itself and pull itself out of its dilemma because it will lack the necessary capabilities.”
The United Nations and government figures also reveal a decrease in education investment and a decrease in school enrollment for children under the age of 15, as well as an increase in child labor.
Some families have switched from private to public schools, although those who did so failed to offer distance learning when the epidemic first broke out and was beset by stoppages and strikes over teachers’ poor salaries when they reopened after the virus had passed, respectively.
A large number of school and university teaching personnel have quit their employment or left the nation, contributing to the country’s rapid brain drain.
According to Abbas el-Halabi, Minister of Education, the challenges are linked to the country’s broader political and economic situation.
In an interview with Dailion, he said that “Lebanese young are increasingly losing trust in continuing to live in Lebanon.”
“It’s true that we’ve witnessed cases of students dropping out, abandoning their studies, or otherwise separating themselves from education. There are many families in Lebanon that no longer value education, but there is also a lot of enthusiasm from those who believe that education is the most essential weapon they can offer their children.”