Reporting from the Lebanese capital of Beirut, Jenny Lafond of La Croix writes that Christian schools across the Middle Eastern nation are struggling to keep teachers, make routine repairs, and buy basic supplies amidst a massive cost of living crisis.
The crisis is not restricted to the education sector or the Lebanese Christian community, as a collapse of the Lebanese pound has fueled a 270% inflation rate. Government subsidies have also been cut from local schools, undermining the education sector as NGOs, private donors, and foreign countries like France are the only remaining, limited sources of funding.
Standing in front of the gate of the high school in Beirut where he had been teaching for sixteen years, Imad K. greeted the students rushing out after classes were over. On that Thursday afternoon, June 15, he turned a page in his life and, torn between relief and anxiety, headed for Qatar, where he had found a new job.
“Did I really have a choice? My salary was worth nothing and I had no hope that the situation would improve any time soon,” said the 40-year-old teacher, acting almost apologetic about emigrating. “I have two children to feed,” he added.
In Lebanon, Imad earned just $350 a month (€320), compared with $1,500 five years ago. That’s an inadequate income, given that living expenses have exploded since the crisis in autumn 2019.
According to a Lebanese American University survey published in early September, 73% of teachers were planning to leave the education sector. Like Imad, three quarters said they wanted to emigrate.
With their foundations shaken, Christian schools are faltering, despite financial assistance, notably from France and L’Œuvre d’Orient. But these welcome contributions are not unlimited.
Ignored by a bankrupt state in the grip of political paralysis, Christian schools no longer seem to expect miracles.