31 De Vere Gardens
London W8 5AW
Letter from Professor Ian Linden, CMG
27 November 2020
The explosion of 4 August, legacy of the collapsing economy, Covid-19: The impact on the education of disadvantaged Lebanese and refugee children in Beirut; TCCT’s update from the front line.
As we described in a previous newsletter Lebanon’s economic collapse has driven an estimated 65,000 children from the private and government subsidised private education sector into the already heavily overcrowded public schools. To this must now be added having to find school places, largely in the suburbs, for the children enrolled in the 200 schools which were damaged (some destroyed) by the August explosion in the port area. Our four centres, including Dekwaneh and Ain El-Remmaneh, were mercifully well outside the blast area. However for our children, rated as being at high risk of dropping out of the public schools, the pressure continues to rise and with it the need for the safety net provided by the Afterschool Program.
Myrna Chamieh, who is TCCT’s person on the ground in Beirut, describes how the public schools are functioning in the pandemic: “They are applying distance learning and physical attendance in an alternate way. Classrooms have been divided into two groups. One week a group attends the school while the second group takes their courses on line. The homes of these poor children, Lebanese and refugees, enrolled in our program are not equipped for on-line distance teaching. Either children have no lap tops or tablets or access to internet or they lack electricity for long hours during the day.
Under these circumstances the centres are staying shut till after Christmas. When they reopen the centres will have to find places for more children and the remedial classes will be essential to assist in making up lost time. The pressure will definitely have significantly increased. In addition the Government has just announced a countrywide lockdown till the end of November”.
Barcelona Football Club (known as ‘Barca’) is as you know one of the world’s most famous soccer clubs. During a visit to the centres in Beirut some months) back one of my fellow trustees noticed that several of the boys and even some of the girls were wearing torn and threadbare Barca jerseys. We wrote to the President of the Club telling him a little about the work of the TCCT asking whether they might spare a few of last season’s jerseys which could be distributed to the children at Christmas. Some time elapsed then one day a large box arrived full of team posters, pens and badges all marked with the symbols of the Club. It arrived with the compliments of the President and there were enough so all the children in the centres would get something, boys and girls.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the President of Barcelona Football Club for his thoughtfulness and generosity.
To all our friends we send best wishes to you, your families, friends and colleagues and please stay safe