Lebanon: International solidarity as education sector reels from impact of explosion
After the devastating explosion in the port of Beirut, Education International has expressed solidarity with the Lebanese capital’s inhabitants, including educators and students.
Education International (EI) and its affiliates have reacted swiftly to the devastating impact of the explosion in Beirut on 4 August. More than 200 people are now believed to have been killed in the Lebanese capital and many thousands have been injured.
EI’s General Secretary David Edwards said that, “with our affiliates around the globe, we are in full solidarity with the educators and population of Beirut recovering from the terrible explosion”.
One crisis after another
Manal Hdaife of the Public Primary School Teachers’ League immediately thanked the global union federation for its strong words of solidarity. Hdaife is a member of EI’s subregional committee for Arab Countries.
Rodolphe Abboud, General Secretary of the Teachers Syndicate of Lebanon (TSL), another of Education International’s national affiliates, highlighted the impact of the blast. “The consequences of the explosion are very painful for the Lebanese in general and the people of Beirut, especially those who were suffering from a suffocating economic crisis. This disaster increased their suffering.”
Impact of pandemic and blast on education
Calling for support, the education union leader said this incident occurred as educators were struggling with the global pandemic. The education sector in Lebanon, especially the private sector, which represents 70 per cent of education in Lebanon, “has been facing a major crisis as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and the economic and financial crisis, which has led many educational institutions to dismiss teachers”, he said.
The “painful explosion has exacerbated the situation and destroyed many schools in Beirut, making it difficult to resume teaching there and destroyed the homes of teachers living in Beirut who have no financial means to repair their homes”.
The Union Center and the Teachers’ Fund Center, which are, respectively, a teacher's support fund and a teacher's compensation and retirement fund centre, located within the affected area, also sustained major infrastructural damage.
EI will liaise with local education unions on how to best assist the affected population, especially the teachers and their students, and try to ensure that education is prioritised in financial aid coming from the international community.
EI’s affiliates have also voiced their concerns and shown their readiness to help the Beirut population and their colleagues in education.
The French non-governmental organisation, Solidarité laïque - of which EI affiliate SNUipp-FSU is a member – has called for donations to help the residents of Beirut and victims of this unprecedented industrial disaster.