BEIRUT: Education Minister Hassan Diab suggested that striking public school teachers compromise and correct Grade 12 examinations since students need the results for university admission.
“Admitting a mistake is always a virtue. I suggest that they mark Grade 12 exams; this will only take three days and will enable students to apply to universities or travel abroad to receive their education,” said Diab in comments published Friday by Al-Joumhouria.
He added that the ministry assumes its responsibilities fully but that two of the issues being discussed do not fall within its purview.
According to Diab, the two issues are the pensions of retired employees and the salary scale for state administrative personnel and military men.
Responding to a question about whether the ministry will issue documents to students stating that they have passed their exams even though they have yet to be graded, Diab was firm in his denial.
“Lebanon did not witness this throughout the course of the civil war except in 1987,” he said.
Meanwhile, striking teachers show no sign of relenting. According to head of the Secondary School Teachers Association, Hanna Gharib, “all options are possible for our lobbying moves.”
Gharib, whose remarks were published Friday by As-Safir newspaper, added, “schools will not open if the starting salary for teachers remains LL 640,000, which is slightly less than that of public servants (estimated to be LL 675,000).”
Teachers who demonstrated Wednesday near the Grand Serail gave the government 10 days to either implement a new salary scale for the public sector or resign.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that he was surprised that teachers were upping the ante after he had agreed with their representatives on means to address 80 percent of their demands.
The economic effects of raising the salary scale will be debated by a ministerial committee set to meet next Tuesday.