Years of corruption and poor governance in Lebanon caused the economy to collapse in 2019. Unfortunate events have been adding up to compound an already weakened country, among them the COVID-19 pandemic, the devastating Beirut port explosion in the summer of 2020 and the cholera outbreak in 2022. Under such appalling circumstances, all Lebanese institutions have been struggling to function and, with the crisis unfolding, it rapidly became impossible for the government to provide more than 2 hours of electricity a day.
In the midst of all this, the children have suffered the most. For many of them, education has been disrupted repeatedly with the succession of regrettable occurrences that have hit the country:
- COVID-19 restrictions,
- the shut down of insolvent schools following the country’s economic collapse,
- prolonged power outages disturbing the schools’ normal functioning,
- the exorbitant cost of transportation between home and school due to the spike in diesel price, as well as
- unaffordable school fees due to the rapid inflation and financial meltdown.
The situation is so meager that many parents are compelled to choose which one of their children can attend school with the little money at their disposal.
In the face of this terrible situation, ALAM association works non stop from Switzerland to relieve the pain of the Lebanese people and make Lebanon a better place for all. By offering solar panels to institutions all over Lebanon, ALAM turns resentment into hope.
Saint Joseph School at Minyara, Akkar, was one of these institutions that have received ALAM’s help.
The Akkar Governorate is one of the most deprived regions in Lebanon. It has two crosspoints to Syria and hosts a big number of Syrian refugees.
With a population of 10 000 residents, Minyara is a particularly vulnerable village of Akkar, and suffers from a very high poverty rate and poor living conditions.
These circumstances in turn have very bad repercussions on school systems in the area, and on children’s education in general. Children there are suffering from extreme poverty and multidimensional insecurity.
During the entire 2021-2022 school year, Saint Joseph School was provided with barely one or two hours of electricity per day and, owing to the atrocious economic crisis, the school has been struggling to afford the costs of diesel generators. As stated by Sister Arrouk, winter is a very challenging time because classes get dark and very cold, and the absence of electricity and heating makes it almost impossible for anyone to attend school.
On the other hand, parents, who already had very low income rates, became unable to support school fees. Due to this dire situation, many children dropped out of school.
“We have to constantly call parents and ask them to come pay the tuition because they barely do. This led the school to default on paying teachers’ salaries for the whole year 2019. Yet, they so generously kept teaching for the sake of the children and to keep the school open”, says the school’s principal Sister Arrouk in an interview.
As a result of all this turmoil, Saint Joseph School struggled to maintain its operation and was on the verge of closing.
Thanks to ALAM, the school now has a 37 Kilowatt-peak hybrid PV system and benefits from electricity and heating all day long. The system also allowed for a transformative switch to digital learning with the activation of the interactive boards and computers.
In an electricity-drained country that is sunny almost all year long, solar energy is the ultimate solution. Minyara’s solar project did not only benefit the school by reducing the electricity costs. It also benefited
- the students by elevating their educational experience to a more tech-savvy one;
- the teachers by ensuring their full salaries from the schools power savings; and
- the environment by reducing diesel consumption to the very minimum.
ALAM will maintain its continuous efforts to support the educational sector in any way possible. It is inconceivable for the association to remain inactive in front of this atrocious situation that’s taking over the schools and the education of a whole generation, a generation that holds the future of Lebanon.