BEIRUT: Teachers will hold a general assembly Monday to decide on whether to end their boycott of marking official exams, the head of the Association of Private School Teachers told The Daily Star.
“The Association of Public Secondary School Teachers will hold a general assembly at 11 a.m. and the Association of Private School Teachers will hold one at 12 p.m. and we will abide by what teachers want,” Nehme Mahfoud said.
But Mahfoud explained that there were no immediate signs that teachers would end their boycott.
The Association of Public Secondary School Teachers ruled out making compromises to allow the grading of official exams to go forward Sunday.
However, teachers from the Free Patriotic Movement, the Amal Movement and the Future Movement decided to heed Education Minister Elias Bou Saab’s call on teachers to begin marking exams.
Members of the Association of Public Secondary School Teachers and of committees correcting official exams announced after a meeting that no correction would take place before Parliament endorsed the salary raise for the public sector.
The committee reaffirmed “its united and independent stand with the Union Coordination Committee in continuing the boycott of the correction of exams so that we can settle our salary scale rights.”
The statement pointed out that the UCC’s boycott was not spontaneous, but followed three years of waiting for a promised raise.
The members of the committee said that giving passing certificates to all students would be unethical and unjustified, and called the decision an “assault” on Lebanese grade 9 and grade 12 exams.
Bou Saab Friday gave protesting teachers one last chance to grade official examinations or risk losing a key negotiating card, saying he would issue passing certificates to all students.
At a news conference after meeting members of the UCC, Bou Saab said he would give the order to issue the passing certificates next week and at the same time called on teachers to begin correcting exams by Monday.
Should teachers begin correcting exams Monday, the decision to issue the certificates will be canceled. Bou Saab will hold one final meeting with a UCC delegation Monday.
Teachers from the FPM also refused to accept the issuing of certificates, calling on the UCC to take “a wise stance that will have a positive impact on the educational, national and humane levels.”
The UCC has demanded the public sector wage hike for three years now, and is calling for a 121 percent increase in the salaries for civil servants and teachers, in addition to other benefits.
Parliament has failed to pass the pay raise due to disagreement on how to finance it and recent comments by lawmakers from all parties confirmed that the draft law would not be passed anytime soon.
Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai called Sunday for the liberation of Lebanese students from a “hostage situation” imposed by the teachers’ boycott of correcting official exams, calling on teachers to abide by the education minister’s call for the grading of exams.
“We insistently call for the liberation of Lebanese students from being used as hostages for the requests of the Union Coordination Committee,” Rai said during Sunday Mass, stressing that boycotting corrections would not resolve the salary scale issue.