BEIRUT: Official exams for Grade 9 and 12 will be held on time, Education Minister Elias Bou Saab announced Friday, seeking to quash speculation that they may be delayed due to possible public sector strikes over the pay hike issue.
“We have agreed to extend the academic year, complete the academic curriculum and hold the official exams on time,” Bou Saab said following a meeting with a delegation from the Union Coordination Committee, a coalition of teachers and public sector employees.
He said a final decision would be made after the Cabinet meeting, which is set for May 27.
Bou Saab assured students as well as parents that there would be “no more [union] strikes until the end of the school year.”
“If we are not able to hold official exams, students won’t be able to enroll in universities,” he warned.
The minister thanked the teachers for agreeing to the decision and stressed the rights of its members, “especially since all political parties have acknowledged the premise [of the wage hike], but they raise the issue of how to finance [it].”
No political party has said it is against the adoption of the salary increase, he added, the disagreement is over how to fund it.
“But they [political factions] have to find a solution between now and May 27,” he said.
Speaker Nabih Berri Wednesday adjourned discussions on the public salary scale until May 27 after MPs failed to agree on how to finance it, as thousands of public school teachers and civil servants rallied to urge lawmakers to pass the bill.
Nehme Mahfoud, head of the Private Schools Teachers Association, assured students that the UCC supported them.
“UCC is keen on the students’ rights more than anyone,” he said at the joint news conference.
UCC head Hanna Gharib, who also attended the news conference, said the union would “be a rescue ship for the country in order to give both students and teachers their rights.”
Additionally, Bou Saab confirmed the need to conduct exams for part-time teachers before they become full-time employees.
“We support ending the farce that is part-time work, and we hope to conduct these exams through the Civil Service Council and make them full-timers,” he said.
Bou Saab also stressed the need for the election of a president by the May 25 deadline in order to avoid a vacuum, which he said would have a negative impact on the whole country.
He called for politicians to “respect the constitutional elections and elect a president before May 25 so we can give hope to the students and the future that lies ahead.”