U.N. Program Connects Schools in Lebanon With Refugee Students | Best Countries

BEIRUT – Around the world, COVID-19 has forced school shutdowns and left parents, teachers and students alike struggling with the sudden switch to online learning.

But the transition has been particularly hard for communities with limited access to the internet and mobile devices. In Lebanon, for instance, a majority of the more than 200,000 Palestinian refugees living in the country are below the poverty line.

About 30% of the 37,000 students enrolled in schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) missed out on classes last spring because of difficulties accessing online learning, says Salem Dib, chief of UNRWA’s Field Education Program in Lebanon.

“The digital divide, let me call it, is that some students were not able to join due to unavailability of smart devices, or internet costs or similar issues,” Dib says. “So, because of this, it was

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