The Lebanese economic crisis, exacerbated by the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, has ended many students’ ability to continue their studies and has also endangered the survival of the country’s universities.
Today, Lebanese citizens cannot withdraw dollars or local currency from banks except in very small amounts, which makes people prioritize daily expenses such as food over anything else and has prevented many of them from paying university or school fees.
“We are studying online now; still we have to pay the fees for the second term. My family has already lost a lot of its savings due to the economic slump,” said Karim Assaf, an 18-year-old who is studying engineering at the University of Balamand. “I am afraid I will have to stop my studies as I won’t be able to pay the fees.”
The Lebanese pound has slumped since last October, when the country’s long-brewing economic troubles came to a head, prompting a financial and banking crisis considered the biggest risk to the country’s stability since the 1975-90 civil war. The currency crisis has resulted in a drop in the value of salaries and wages in both the public and private sectors, with the minimum monthly salary of 675,000 Lebanese pounds now equivalent to $168, a decline of 63 percent. The lockdown that has closed many businesses and increased unemployment has also exacerbated the country’s economic crisis, with consumer groups reporting a 58 percent price increase on basic commodities.