BEIRUT: Education Minister Elias Bou Saab said Saturday that he would hand students "school affidavits" as an alternative to graduating if teachers remain adamant on boycotting the grading of official exams due to the deadlock over the salary scale bill.
“In case no agreement was reached over the salary scale, I will resort to school affidavits as a temporary solution," Bou Saab said, adding that the affidavits would be ratified by the ministry.
“If teachers want to commit suicide, I will not allow them to take the students with them.”
Teachers who are part of the Union Coordination Committee have vowed to boycott marking official exams until Parliament passes the public sector wage hike bill. However, differences among lawmakers have lingered over means to finance the draft law, estimated to cost the treasury some $1.2 billion per year.
Students in Lebanon need to pass Grade 12 official exams to enroll at university and Grade 9 exams to enter high school.
Contacts are ongoing among lawmakers and heads of parliamentary blocs to draft a bill that would appease all sides.
While the Future Movement has proposed raising the VAT from 10 to 11 percent, Speaker Nabih Berri has opposed such a demand. Berri has said he is willing to accept a 1 percent rise in VAT in return for paying the wages in a single installment or to keep the VAT as is and pay the raise in installments with reductions in the total percentage demanded by the UCC.
Media reports said Saturday that Future bloc MP Fouad Siniora proposed a draft law that he promoted as a complete vision to ending the deadlock over the salary scale.
The proposal included a 1 percent increase on the VAT, a 10 percent reduction of the overall cost of the bill and an additional four grades instead of six for teachers. Siniora also proposed that the pay hike would be paid via one installment.