BEIRUT: The Cabinet Thursday gave Education Minister Elias Bou Saab the green light to pass all students who took official exams, in an attempt to salvage the upcoming academic year and ease university admission procedures amid the teachers’ ongoing boycott.
“The Cabinet agreed to task the minister with following up on the correction of exams in an attempt to salvage the upcoming academic year and secure the admission of students into universities and taking all necessary measures to achieve this goal, including providing students with certificates,” Information Minister Ramzi Joreige told reporters after the government session.
He said the decision was taken after the education minister delivered an overview of the situation in light of teachers’ ongoing refusal to correct official examinations.
Their boycott is a protest against the Parliament’s delay in approving the public sector wage hike.
Lawmakers have been at loggerheads over how to finance the salary scale bill.
The Union Coordination Committee, which has spearheaded protests in support of the salary scale bill over the past three years, has argued that issuing passing certificates would negatively affect education in the country, but Bou Saab has said such a move was a last resort to help students finish the school year.
Students in Lebanon need to pass Grade 12 official exams to enroll at university and Grade 9 exams to enter high school.
“The Cabinet also asked the minister to shut down unlicensed schools and others that do not meet required conditions before the start of the academic year and to settle the situation of students in such schools and refer the issue to the public prosecutor,” Joreige said.
Speaking after the end of the Cabinet session at the Grand Serail, Bou Saab said teachers needed to understand that the wage hike bill would not be approved anytime soon and asked them to reconsider their boycott.
“The teachers need to recognize the difficult situation, because approving the salary scale bill is not going to happen in the meantime. Students have deadlines to join colleges and the work of the union cannot hold students hostage like that,” he said. “Some members of the Union Coordination Committee should reconsider their stance and think of ways to win the battle rather than lose it.”
The minister said Speaker Nabih Berri had assured the UCC that the salary scale bill would be the first item on the agenda of any upcoming Parliament session, as soon as lawmakers agree on a formula that balances expenses and revenues.