Year after year, Lebanese people cannot live in peace, security, and prosperity, as crises overwhelm them, destroying everything except the hope for a better tomorrow.
Amid the political and economic crises that had already exhausted Lebanon, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the vertical collapse of all public services. It has had a terrible impact on a public education sector already weakened by the bad policies of successive governments, bringing it to the verge of total collapse. Instead of supporting public education, government policies undermined the system, choosing to prioritize the private sector.
Teachers in survival mode
Since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2019, teachers have been committed to delivering education despite the wide range of challenges, from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to the deterioration of the Lebanese Lira. In fact, education unions were the first to help teachers to acquire the skills for distance teaching and learning, when the Lebanese government did not have the means nor the strategy to cope with the situation. It was only much later that teachers finally received training organized by the government. Despite all these efforts, we could not compensate for the huge impact of the economic and living crises. Neither parents nor teachers had the means to secure the technology required for distance learning.
The situation worsened day by day, until the national currency deteriorated dramatically. One dollar became equal to 60,000 Lebanese Lira, meaning that a teacher’s monthly salary was $40 or even less. The government made small contributions, but they were all eroded by the continued rise in the exchange rate. The Lebanese Lira has fallen to its lowest level in decades. Donors have also helped, but aid has not been able to match the outrageous inflation. Teachers have been in survival mode all along.
Taking action for change
Lebanese teachers decided to go on strike on December 15 and the strike continues to this day . It is impossible for teachers to keep working when salaries are not enough, without any insurance nor hospital coverage. Teachers are completely neglected by a government that failed to adopt timely solutions and that has pushed ahead with its privatization plan.
350,000 Lebanese students and 170,000 Syrian students are left without education. 60,000 teachers are in the streets demanding their rights but no one is listening.
The unions that represent public education teachers in Lebanon (primary - vocational - secondary) continue their struggle to restore the rights and defend the dignity of teachers.
The teaching profession needs donors to live up to their promises. We need the international community to help rebuild our education system and denounce the policies of the Lebanese government which been destroying our public education and supporting the privatization of the sector. Despite the egregious failures of successive governments, we continue to hope and we will cross into a new future.
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.