E-learning Innovation Combats Wave of School Drop Outs across Lebanon
Feb. 3, 2022
Soaring school drop-outs
New analysis by UNICEF reveals a worrying increase in school drop outs while enrolment in formal education has nosedived from 60% in 2020-2021 to 43% in the new academic year.
Why? Because basic necessities such as food and medicine are simply running out. The report suggests that more than 4 in 10 youth in Lebanon are spending their limited family finances on these essential items. Meanwhile, their shot at a brighter future is being put on the backburner as families scramble to survive a crisis on all fronts.
COVID-19 has only exacerbated the problem. Despite a national easing of restrictions, the number of children returning to school has stagnated. Those who do reapply are met with week-long waiting lists, making the draw of instant money - no matter how little - ever-more appealing.
Feeling the pressure
At a refugee camp in the Bekaa valley - often named the ‘forgotten camp’ for its remote location and neglected upkeep - the impact of the crisis is readily felt.
For neighbours Majid (12) and Sahar (13), the stress of the situation has shown itself in difficult emotions and arguments. With tensions high at home, the two friends began fighting a lot.
In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, War Child was forced to adapt much of its programming. Even our e-learning innovation Can’t Wait to Learn had to shift gears, with more support needed to deliver the educational games to children and youth in lockdown.
Now, we are adapting again - with the multi-pronged crisis showing its face in lots of new and unwanted ways including daily electricity outages, a stressful home learning environment as well as a lack of time for learning in general as more and more young people take up work in arduous industries at irregular hours.
The educational games are co-created with children so they reflect their reality
Majid and Sahar can follow the classes using a tablet, SD card or mobile phone
Learning - and bonding - at home
To meet these needs, our ‘Can’t Wait to Learn @ Home’ version has been further honed and developed. An important element is the psychosocial support and learning guidance that our team of dedicated facilitators provide as well as an easy-to-follow ‘how-to’ manual that parents and caregivers can use to offer additional support to their children.
At the height of lockdown, Sahar and Majid also received instructions via their mothers' mobile phones. “The facilitators couldn’t meet the children in person”, says Lamia Doueihy, Technical Education Officer for Can’t Wait to Learn in Lebanon. “So we’d use WhatsApp. The benefit of that was that it also encouraged parents to engage with their children and work together.”
And work together they did. “What I witnessed was a strong bond forming between mother and child but also the whole family unit”, she continues. “They’d wake up early, prepare their educational materials together and follow the songs and animated videos; singing along in unison.”
“This is the real joy of Can’t Wait to Learn", adds Lamia. "Sahar and Majid are not only learning how to read and write and solve maths problems, they're also developing the social and emotional skills to become the young adults they want to be.”
In 2021, 11,651 children participated in Can’t Wait to Learn@Home in Lebanon. 1,793 children began playing the educational games on tablets from home. 9,858 children took part via other modalities including a receiver, an SD card or an online link, ensuring they could continue learning in the midst of crisis.
"I am so proud of myself", said Sahar, as she picked up her certificate at a special 'graduation party'