Wednesday, August 26, 2020

In Lebanon, what back to school?

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

In certain countries, the back to school spending is one of the biggest non-holiday spending times. In Lebanon a little less so, but still, between books (often imported), clothes (often dictated and issued by school), stationary, and the ever increasing tuition, the money spent is gob-smacking. Am thinking mostly of non-governmental schools. For those attending government schools, the task is a little easier, but not by much. Usually these schools are frequented by a lower socio-economic class to whom the symbolic tuition and books make - proportionately - almost the same percentage of spending as those in the non-governmental ones. Do note, this is by no means stereotyping, because a good student is a good one, and a student wanting to learn will find a way to learn.

But between spiking Coronavirus rates, between the schools that vanished in the Beirut explosion (am hearing 130 schools), between the local currency that lost 80% of its value, between parents who either completely lost their job or are working for a meager pay or one which now means peanuts, I wonder what back to school season do we talk about? To go on, continue, and still be productive, is a colossal challenge in Lebanon. And sometimes, no, we do not have that energy.