BEIRUT — International non-profit organization Aid to the Church in Need has launched a “Back to School” assistance program which will benefit 30,000 students and more than 6,000 teachers in nearly 200 Catholic schools in Lebanon. The program will ensure that students are able to return to school after the summer vacation despite the immense economic hardship in the country.
Some 153,000 Christian students between the ages of 6 and 16 years old receive their education in Lebanon’s roughly 250 Catholic schools and institutes. Due to the terrible economic crisis that Lebanon is going through, however, many parishes that run educational facilities are concerned about the return of children to school. One in ten children left school last year due to emigration or lack of financial resources.
Aid to the Church in Need believes that a continued Christian presence in Lebanon depends on keeping schools open. “Supporting schools is a major response to the crisis experienced by Lebanese Christians,” explains Alessandro Montedoro, the organization’s Italy director, after a recent visit to Lebanon in recent weeks.
“In Lebanon, Christian education is taught mainly in Catholic schools, not in parishes, and therefore if Catholic schools and teachers start to disappear due to lack of financial resources, the demographic balance will change rapidly,” he added. “Especially since the country’s financial collapse has made it impossible for many parents to pay school fees.”
The total cost of the projects in the “Back to School” program amount to $2,280,00 USD and includes: teachers’ salaries, family grants, assistance to Christian education teachers in public schools, assistance for solar panels in schools, grants to purchase materials for students in 89 supported schools, and various other projects for schools.