In August 2020, an explosion in the Port of Beirut, Lebanon led to 70,000 homes being damaged and 300,000 people experiencing homelessness. This happened in the midst of a global pandemic and a country-wide economic crisis where over 30% of the Lebanese population was already experiencing economic uncertainty due to joblessness. Like many other places in the world, schools were reinventing how to do education while remaining socially distant –this required students to have access to technology. For many, this was an impossibility as the economic and environmental situation grew dire.
THE PROBLEM AND THE SOLUTION
Due to the destruction that the blast caused and the ongoing nature of COVID-19, education for school-aged children has been difficult, if not impossible. Online learning is the current solution for schooling within Lebanon, but without the necessary technology, the educational success of the students has drastically decreased. Many students have been forced to use a parent’s mobile device and WhatsApp to communicate with the school. Sadly, many others have abandoned schooling altogether.
Our partners in Lebanon saw an opportunity to bless these children and their families with the appropriate technology to return to their education. While it may seem like a small gesture, the implications are far-reaching. These children will resume their normal learning while parents can return to their jobs and not stress finances or their child’s education.
Our partners will purchase 100 tablets and distribute them to children in the most devastated areas of Beirut: St. Michael, Al Marfa, Jisr, and Karantina. Since the blast, the team has spent every day helping rebuild those areas of the city. Due to their faithful service in this part of Beirut, they have built relationships with multiple families and will be distributing tablets on an “as needed” basis.
Children in Beirut currently have limited access to education due to the ongoing nature of COVID-19 and the continued effects of the explosion in August. Our partners desire to increase access to education by gifting children the technology needed to fully engage in school, thereby increasing their educational knowledge, social, and emotional health.
Ahmed is an 11-year-old 5th-grade student living in the St. Michael district of Beirut. When the explosion happened, the house that he lives in with his mother, father, and two older sisters was destroyed. The windows were blown out, the walls were cracked and many of their possessions were destroyed by the force of the blast, shattered glass, and debris. The destruction left the family homeless for many weeks while it was being repaired. Having spent most of their savings on home repairs and with school starting online a couple of weeks later (as a result of COVID), the family was not able to purchase the necessary equipment for Ahmed to succeed at school. He tried his best to engage with classmates, teachers, and the curriculum using his father’s phone and WhatsApp, but slowly began to disengage spending most of the day playing or watching YouTube videos Instead.
When our partners met Ahmed’s parents, they expressed their grief over their home, COVID, and the way that these circumstances have contributed to their children’s educational setbacks. Although only a few months of inconsistent schooling, Ahmed is at an age where dependable education is necessary for academic success. This has not been happening as a result of the pandemic and a lack of technological resources.
Ahmed’s parents were ecstatic when they heard their son was chosen to receive a tablet. Since receiving the tablet, he has now been able to engage full-time in school as opposed to only a couple of hours per week previously. He is happier and more motivated as he engages with friends and teachers.
Amount of hours student is participating in school increased by 75%
Student grades increased by 25%
Student anxiety decreased by 25%
Metrics measured 6 months after distribution.