The “Back to School” program of US$2.28 million will help ensure the continuity of the Christian presence in Lebanon and the coexistence between the different religions.
Königstein/Montréal, September 16, 2022 – International Pontifical Charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has just launched its “Back to School” aid program in Lebanon, which will benefit 30,000 students and more than 6,000 teachers in almost 200 schools, making it possible to resume classes after the summer break.
Around 185,000 pupils, both Christian and Muslim, between the ages of 6 and 18 attend some 250 Catholic schools. Due to the terrible economic crisis that Lebanon is experiencing, many of the religious congregations or dioceses that run schools in the country are very concerned about their students’ return to the classrooms. One in ten children left school during the last academic year, either due to migration or financial difficulties.
The charity is convinced that the continuity of the Christian presence in Lebanon depends on keeping schools open.
“In this country, religious education takes place mainly in Catholic schools, rather than in parishes. If Catholic schools and teachers begin to disappear due to lack of financial means, the demographic balance will change rapidly.”
The country’s financial collapse has made it impossible for many parents to pay tuition fees. Semi-public schools are also experiencing a situation of great hardship because although they are entitled to government subsidies, over the past four years the Lebanese State has not covered the costs.
“Many schools are bankrupt; they can’t afford to pay teachers and struggle to find the means to sustain themselves. The great risk is that Catholic schools will be forced to close, which would also be a long-term disaster for coexistence between religions, since these institutions play a vital role in relations between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon and are an example of coexistence for the entire Middle East”, Ozores adds.
Another big problem for many schools is the power and electricity supply. Already notoriously dysfunctional and in short supply for decades, Lebanese schools rely on access from private generators during outages, which was already a huge cost before the financial crisis. This is one of the nightmares for the operation of schools.
Projects in the “Back to School” program add up to a total of $2.28 million in aid and include:
- US$818,760 – Stipends for teachers
- US$692,920 – Aid for families with scholarships
- US$240,000 – Aid for catechists in public schools
- US$211,358 – Aid for solar panels for Catholic schools
- US$200,000 – Aid for materials for students at 89 assisted schools
- US$119,900 – Miscellaneous for schools
The charity, which had already increased its aid to this country since the disastrous Port of Beirut explosion in August 2020, continues to prioritise the survival and subsistence of Christian communities in Lebanon—the only Arab country where Christians play an active role in society and politics, and a place of refuge for persecuted Christians for centuries, including Armenians in the twentieth century, and Syrians and Iraqis over the last decade.
“By 2020, most of ACN’s funding to Lebanon was going to support Syrian refugees, but now it is Lebanese Christians who need our help,” Ozores explains.
To donate online, please visit www.acn-canada.org/donate.
Once on the page, choose Relief for The Most Urgent Needs.After filling the form with your information, write in Additional Notes: For ACN Schools Projects in Lebanon.
You can also donate by calling 1-800-585-6333 or by mailing your donation to:
Aid to the Church in Need (Canada)
Back to School Project – Lebanon
Postal Box 670, Station H
Montreal, QC H3G 2M6
Sub Office in Ontario
Ontario ACN Sub-Office
Back to School Project – Lebanon
P.O. Box 69117, St. Claire Centre
Toronto, ON M4T 3A1
Founded in 1947 as a Catholic relief organization for war refugees and recognised as a pontifical charity since 2011, ACN is dedicated to serving Christians around the world wherever they are persecuted, discriminated against, or suffer material need, through prayer, information, and charity.
With offices in 23 countries, ACN can support an average of 6,000 projects in nearly 150 countries each year, thanks to private donations, as the organization does not receive government aid.