Rampant COVID-19 school closures, lack of online learning plague poorer countries

OTTAWA — As fretful Canadian parents mull sending their children to school or opting for at-home learning, there are countries where no school at all is the only option.

One is Lebanon, where the fallout from the massive Aug. 4 port explosion in Beirut will keep tens of thousands of children out of classrooms because their schools were levelled or severely damaged.

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Peter Simms, the education adviser for Plan International Canada, says a lost year of school is threatening to compound the "toxic stress" that young people in Lebanon were already experiencing after surviving the explosion.

In Lebanon, 180 schools were damaged in the blast and that will keep 85,000 students out of classrooms.

The United Nations estimates 1.5 billion children were adversely affected by COVID-19 school closures.

Aid agencies such as World Vision and Save the Children say the education vacuum is exposing girls, especially, to rising violence and sexual exploitation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.

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