Nour Ezzeddine says it straight away: the private school where she works is privileged. But before the start of the school year, this education advisor from the Elite high school, located near Tire, in southern Lebanon, was tasked with organizing exchanges of school books, a practice that was extremely rare in the country before the financial debacle started. in the summer of 2019. Without this barter, reinforced by donations of textbooks by the French Embassy, “Many families would have been unable to obtain the books”, Nour adds. As the economic collapse accelerates, the depreciation of the pound is undermining the morale of teachers, whose salaries are hardly worth anything, and the daily hardships endured by families affect students’ concentration. “We cannot give up on education, it is Lebanon’s main strength”, urges the education advisor, who does not escape moments of discouragement.
Education has long been the pride of the country of the Cedars, whose population has the reputation of being the best educated in the Arab world. The quality of the courses given and the importance given to multilingualism have offered generations of Lebanese a key to further studies or well-paid jobs abroad. However, the education system has weakened for more than a decade, for educational and financial reasons. The current cataclysm accentuates these flaws. “Years of crises, political and social unrest, as well as recent developments in Lebanon have caused the education sector to become largely inefficient and inequitable. It only provides low levels of learning and skills ”, noted, severe, the World Bank in June.
The school year that has opened is considered to be a pivotal one, after two years of teaching very disturbed by the instability that followed the popular uprising of October 2019, then by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, most students only attended face-to-face school for a few weeks. Only a handful of high-end schools have managed to escape the fiasco of online courses, inaccessible to part of the population.
Subsidies from abroad
Historically, private schools, often religious, have always had pride of place. They enrolled more than two-thirds of students in 2018. Tradition has it that many children complete their entire course in the same school, from primary to bac. But these establishments are now faced with the departure of teachers (nearly 10% have left the private sector under the effect of the crisis) but also with the difficulties of parents, in the inability to pay school fees and sometimes forced to switch their child in the public.
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In Lebanon, a pivotal year for the education system, threatened with collapse