COVID-19 school closures plague poorer countries

Rescuers search at the site of a collapsed building after getting signals there may be a survivor under the rubble, in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. The fallout from the massive Aug. 4 port explosion in Beirut will keep tens of thousands of children out of school because their schools were levelled or severely damaged. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Bilal Hussein

Rescuers search at the site of a collapsed building after getting signals there may be a survivor under the rubble, in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. The fallout from the massive Aug. 4 port explosion in Beirut will keep tens of thousands of children out of school because their schools were levelled or severely damaged. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Bilal Hussein

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.

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.

, 2020.