Disability and Livelihoods in Lebanon
In 2002 the Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union (LPHU) conducted a study of 200 graduates of institutions for disabled people, to find out if institutions help disabled people enjoy their rights in the areas of education and employment, as set out in Lebanon’s laws on disability rights and education law. It looked at the experience of 200 graduates of institutions for disabled people, aged between 14 and 40. Special institutions for disabled children are common in Lebanon, although local and international evidence indicates that these institutions undermine children’s rights. LPHU’s study found that special institutions have much lower levels of educational attainment than mainstream schools, and that few graduates find employment. Most employed institution graduates earn less than the minimum wage. Few institution graduates are covered by Lebanon’s state health and retirement insurance. Long term trends are not promising. Younger graduates were more likely to have low levels of educational attainment and most likely be unemployed. Women graduates did better than men at school, but fared worse in the labour market. The study showed that disabled people are one of several groups paying the price for Lebanon’s current economic policies. These economic policies, sponsored by the Lebanese government and international donors, often prioritise growth over fairness. Effective solutions for disabled people in Lebanon could lead to improvements in the lives of people from other marginal groups.