Lebanon News

Tuition hike awaits Parliament’s salary increase endorsement

FILE - Nehme Mahfoud, head of the Private Schools Teachers Association speaks during a teachers' protest that was part of a general strike by civil servants outside the Grand Serail in Downtown Beirut, Wednesday, July 25, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Private schools will wait for Parliament to approve a teachers’ salary hike before raising tuition fees, the General Secretariat of the Catholic Schools association said Tuesday.

“We cannot increase tuition fees until the draft law is passed by Parliament,” Joseph Harb, a representative of the General Secretariat of Catholic Schools, told The Daily Star.

The Cabinet last week approved a new salary scale for the public sector that will enable employees and teachers at public and private schools to benefit from a salary raise introduced to the private sector in January to make up for increases in living cost since 1998.

Harb said that any hikes in tuition fees this year were a result of a salary increase elementary school teachers received last year.

“The same tuition fee levels of the last academic year will be adhered to this year, plus an addition to match four pay jumps elementary teachers received in March,” Harb said.

Harb said private schools have yet to receive details on the new salary scale, adding that increasing tuition fees is the only way schools can make up for the raise.

“As for how much the increase will be, I cannot tell you at the moment,” he said, adding that “if the raise is paid to teachers in installments, then tuition will be raised in installments.” An umbrella union reiterated its rejection of the “random raise” in the new public sector salary scale Cabinet approved last week. In a special meeting Tuesday, the Union of Private Educational Institutions, of which Harb’s organization is a member, reiterated in a statement its rejection of “the random raise that the Cabinet has approved.”

It called for dealing with the private and the public sectors separately in legislation. Historically, teachers at private schools and public schools are paid the same.

Harb questioned why teachers at private schools would get a raise ranging from LL 600,000 to LL 2,700,000, when the pay hike for other private sector employees ranged from LL200,000 to LL299,000.

The union criticized its exclusion from talks on the salary scale over the past months, calling for a meeting under the patronage of Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Education Minister Hassan Diab which would bring together representatives of schools, parents, teachers and experts in economics, accounting and law to find a solution suitable to all.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 12, 2012, on page 4.




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