Education has traditionally been one of Lebanon’s strengths. Already in the 19th century Christian monastic and missionary schools were founded, paid for by Western countries. Since the 1960s, basic education has been free of charge in state schools, but students who can afford it go to private schools, where the standard is higher.
All religious groups have the right to run their own schools. Private schools have great freedom, but those who receive support from the government must submit to regular inspections by the school ministry.
The school system comprises four stages in each of three years, that is, a total of twelve years, of which the first nine are compulsory, starting at six years of age. For the last three years, students can choose between science, humanities or technical / vocational education.
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Only seven out of ten children started in year seven. The dropouts are particularly numerous among the Palestinian refugee children, especially the girls. In the Palestinian refugee camps, the UN organization UNRWA provides primary education and health care.
Since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, nearly half a million Syrian refugee children have also been added. With the support of international organizations, Lebanon has had the ambition to offer the children free schooling, but according to the UNHCR, about half have not had access to education at all. Many Syrian children have been forced to work to help their families. Unesco is one of the organizations working to give them the opportunity to attend school.
Literacy in Lebanon amounts to just under 90 percent. Among women, it is a few percent lower.
Prior to the 1975–1990 civil war, Beirut was a university town for the entire Middle East, including the well-known American University of Beirut. However, the universities were often kept closed during the war when many schools were destroyed.
The civil war has also left deep wounds in the curricula. During the fall of 2019, the problem was highlighted by students who emphasized that the history books did not teach the war, or important events after it, such as the Israeli troop retreat from southern Lebanon in 2000, after the 18-year occupation, and the mass protests that pushed the Syrian government to withdraw military presence in 2005.
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FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
86.3 percent (2017)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
91.2 percent (2009)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
8.6 percent (2013)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
8.6 percent (2013)
Hezbollah is pointed out for border tunnels
The UN is reviewing Israeli data that Lebanese Hezbollah has dug tunnels below the border between the countries. UN peacekeepers find tunnels, but no exits in Israeli territory. Equally, the tunnels are considered to be a border violation. Two out of four tunnels extend south of the “blue line”, a demarcation line between the countries drawn up by the UN in 2000 when Israel’s retreat from southern Lebanon, after 18 years of occupation, was confirmed. The tunnels violate a UN resolution that ended the war fought between Israel and Lebanon in 2006.
Torpedoing of refugee vessels documented
An Israeli submarine accidentally dropped a ship with refugees in 1982, according to a program in state-run Israeli television. The refugees tried to escape the war in Lebanon, but 25 people lost their lives. Israel had entered Lebanon at the time to expel the PLO and the submarine captain believed the ship had Palestinian guerrillas on board. The information is taken from documents that had previously been secretly stamped by Israel’s military censorship. Opinions are divided as to whether the torpedo was a crime and whether the Israeli defense force has deliberately darkened the incident.
Christian clan leaders make peace
Two Christian families who have been in the lurch for decades have made peace. Suleiman Franjieh and Samir Geagea sign a document at a televised meeting of the Maronite Patriarch, promising to “turn leaves”. Many influential families had their own militias during the 1975–1990 civil war, and Christian clans had – and still have – different views of the Syrian regime’s influence in Lebanon. In 1978, Geagea was accused of leading a scare, where among others Franjieh’s parents and little sister were killed. Franjieh is close to the Assad regime, while Geagea belongs to its determined opponents.
Disappearances during the war years should be investigated
Parliament adopts a law requiring the state to investigate what happened to people who disappeared during the 1975–1990 civil war and, as far as possible, to hold those responsible accountable; The guilty shall be punishable by up to 15 years in prison and no more than a fine. Previous attempts to investigate the disappearances have failed, but those investigations have not been decided by law. Many of the warlords who led armed groups during the war are still active in Lebanese politics.
Hezbollah demands slow new government
Sunni Muslims affiliated with the Shiite Hezbollah movement must be prepared for government seat, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah demands when commenting on the formation of the government in a televised speech. It has been almost six months without a new government since the parliamentary elections, and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri – who holds firmly in one of the ministerial portfolios on his own Sunni party – points out Hezbollah as the obstacle. Extended government negotiations are rather a rule than exceptions in Lebanon. One reason for Hezbollah’s strong negotiating position is that the movement is the only party still heavily armed since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Blank pages in protest of lack of decision making
The newspaper al-Nahar, the country’s oldest, protests that five months after the parliamentary elections, the political parties have failed to form a new government. The magazine is printed with eight blank pages and the internet edition is published without links. The editor-in-chief explains that the concern expressed in this way is about, among other things, that aid pledges from an international conference (see April 6) are not translated into measures, such as investments in infrastructure. Sopberg, contaminated tap water and recurring power outages testify to the needs.
Provocative change of street name
Martyr Mustafa Badr al-Din’s street in the Beirut district of al-Ghubayri is named after a former Hezbollah commander. The name raises bad blood: The Hezbollah commander, who is no longer alive, is believed to have been the one who planned the murder of Sunni Muslim veteran politician Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005 and the street leads to a hospital bearing the name of the murder victim. The Hezbollah Shi movement refuses to be involved in the attack that claimed another 21 people’s lives, but the change of name on the street has taken place at the same time as the end is approached in a trial with UN support for four suspects. Rafiq al-Hariri’s son Saad is prime minister today and the government is demanding that the sign be removed.
The US withdraws support for refugees
Concern is growing with Palestinian refugees since President Trump decided to withdraw US support for the UN organization UNRWA, which provides health care and education to Palestinian refugees. The United States has been UNRWA’s largest single donor country and accounted for nearly a third of the budget. In Lebanon, where there are at least 174,000 Palestinian refugees, UNRWA operates 27 health centers and 66 schools.
Armored vehicles are promoted to environmental enhancers
Ten old armored vehicles will be lowered to the bottom of the ocean in order to create new underwater environments. The idea is that they will serve as reefs, reports AFP. The initiative has been taken by an environmental organization in the city of Saida, which hopes they will soon be covered by seagrass and attract marine organisms, eventually also divers. Lebanon has 20 miles of coastline to the Mediterranean, but lack of garbage disposal causes large piles of garbage to damage the beaches. The garbage also contributes to domestic political tensions.
Homebound on the way to Syria
About Syrian 850 refugees return home. The departure is a recurring feature of a repatriation, a return, organized by the governments of Lebanon and Syria. The Hezbollah movement is one of the driving forces. Concerns about the security of the refugees are being voiced by human rights organizations, which also question whether everyone is going home voluntarily. Russia, the Syrian regime’s allies, has proposed setting up working groups in both Lebanon and Jordan, which have received over one million Syrian refugees each during the war years.
Anger against decrees giving citizenship
A decree from President Aoun that was kept secret provokes outrage. The decision, signed on May 11, granted dozens of people Lebanese citizenship. According to leaks to the media, Syrian businessmen with ties to the Assad regime are among those receiving a fast track to citizenship. The presidential office confirms the decision itself, but says that the persons should be examined by security officers. When the list is released a few days later, it turns out that one of the most surprising names is one of Iraq’s leading politicians: Iyad Allawi.
Doctors, Ministers and Parliamentarians
Inaya Izz al-Din (Ezzeddine) becomes the first Shiite woman in parliament, notes French Le Monde. She is a doctor, owns and runs a laboratory company, and is selected on a joint list for the two Shiite groups Hezbollah and Amal. In an interview, she highlights women’s rights and measures against corruption as targets. She is already a minister and is mentioned as a possible name even in the next government.
Hariri forms government again
24th of May
President Michel Aoun has commissioned Saad al-Hariri to form a new government. Hariri has been approved as a government by the parliament, who has also elected Nabih Berri as president.
Sanctions against Hezbollah’s leadership
Hezbollah’s strong election results mean that the Shiite movement is strengthening its ability to block political demands for the dissolution of its armed branch. The United States and six states on the Arabian Peninsula that oppose Hezbollah’s cooperation with Iran, including in the battlefield in Syria, are now facing sanctions against five people in Hezbollah’s leadership. Hassan Nasrallah is one of the leaders accused of supporting terrorism. At the same time, the Gulf states are imposing sanctions on nine other Hezbollah representatives who are already on the US sanctions list. The sanctions block people’s access to international financial systems.
The election a success for Hezbollah
The Shiite Hezbollah Movement Announces Victory in Parliamentary Election ; both Hezbollah and its ally Amal have taken on more mandates than in the last election. The Free Patriotic Movement (Aoun Alliance) has also progressed. The Future Movement, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s party, has lost a third of its mandate, but the constitution says that the post of head of government should go to a Sunni Muslim and, despite the election results, Hariri is expected to get the bid to form a new government.
Lower voter turnout with new system
Parliamentary elections are conducted, with a new electoral system. The turnout is lower than last time: 49.2 percent against 54 percent in 2009. In order to vote, you must be at least 21 years old, in order to be able to run for at least 25 years. Even with the new system, the votes are distributed according to the population’s religious composition in each constituency, but the changes encourage alliances across traditional boundaries between the peoples.
Hezbollah withdrawn in dispute over arms exports
The Shiite Hezbollah movement is accused of being an intermediary in arms deliveries from Iran to the Western Saharan liberation movement Polisario. Morocco, which controls Western Sahara, takes home its Iranian ambassador in protest and demands that a diplomat from Iran leave Morocco. Hezbollah rejects accusations of involvement in arming Western Sahara.
Few foreign voters vote
Parliamentary elections start with foreign vote on Lebanese missions in 39 countries. Lebanese abroad can participate, for the first time. 12,611 people in the Middle East who have registered are the first to go to the polls. But only 82,900 foreign voters have registered in total, despite the fact that over one million Lebanese outside their home country are believed to have citizenship, and about two-thirds of them are eligible to participate. In Lebanon, the constituency consists of 3.7 million citizens. In the next election, 2022, six of the 128 seats in the parliament will be folded for voter support from foreign Lebanese, then interest is expected to increase.
Electoral movement with new system and new alliances
Valyra prevails before the parliamentary elections on May 6, the first in almost a decade and the first in accordance with a new electoral law. The 128 parliamentarians elected in 2009 have repeatedly been allowed to extend their mandate without elections. Currently, 917 candidates are on 77 national lists. Majority elections are replaced by a proportional system, with elements of personal choice, and new alliances are formed because the outcome of the election is more uncertain with the new election system. According to AFP, Hezbollah is an exception; the Shi movement seems to have confidence in its own popularity. The electoral movement, according to media on site, thoughts of movie gala.
Big response at donor meeting
41 countries and organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank promise various forms of support for Lebanon: according to the French government, investments of $ 10 billion over the course of four years, with an increase to $ 23 billion over a twelve-year period, with both donations and loan pledges included. Since the Syrian war broke out in 2011, and radically affected the neighboring country, the Lebanese budget deficit has more than doubled.
Budget approved for donor meeting
Parliament adopts a budget for 2018 with a deficit of $ 4.8 billion. AFP describes Lebanon as the world’s third most indebted country and France will host an international donor conference on April 6. One of the reasons for the strained economy is the war in Syria, which has caused more than one million refugees to go to Lebanon. Growth has dropped from 9 percent in 2010 to just 1.1 percent on average over the past three years.
France supports the government army
France gives Lebanon credit of EUR 400 million to cover government spending. In the past, the French government has promised to provide equipment to protect against tanks.
More women are candidates
Ahead of the May 6 parliamentary elections in which 128 seats are at stake, 976 people have announced they want to run, state government reports the day after the registration period expired. 111 of the candidates are women, it is described as a record. In this year’s election, a new electoral law is applied for the first time, which means, among other things, to follow a proportional system and reduce the number of electoral districts to 15. However, with the new law, however, within each electoral district, the mandate will be distributed with regard to the residents’ religious affiliation.. The lists where the candidates are presented must be ready by March 26.
Disgusted with exploration at sea
Lebanon signs the first agreements that provide clear signs for disputed oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean. According to the plans, French Total, Italian ENI and Russian Novatek will be allowed to prospect in two fields. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has argued that one field belongs to Israel and that the decision is a provocation.
Aggravated sweeping crisis following storms
After a winter storm, large quantities of garbage have been washed up on beaches on the Mediterranean, and fishermen are getting garbage in the nets. A cleaning effort has been ordered by the government, reports the Daily Star newspaper. But the basic problem remains: the tips are growing, not least along the coast, and there is no working recovery.
Refugees die in blizzard
At least 15 Syrians succumb to a blizzard while trying to flee to Lebanon via mountain ranges along the border. Three children and several women lost their lives, according to Lebanese authorities. The group is believed to have been abandoned by refugee smugglers and two suspects have been arrested. In 2015, Lebanon, which still houses nearly a million Syrians, imposed restrictions on refugee immigration.