Slapstick education

File - Minister Elias Bou Saab arrives at the education ministry in Beirut, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

In what is probably a dream come true for many teenagers across the world, the Lebanese Education Ministry has finally decided to grant certificates to tens of thousands of high school students, regardless of whether or not they even sat the exams.

The indirect result of a teachers strike – part of wider public sector demands for higher salaries – this unfortunate turn of events reveals the deep-seated problems within the education sector in this country.

However, if there is any silver lining to be found here, in this farcical situation which we have not seen the likes of since the Civil War, it will be that this should act as a catalyst to reform the sector entirely.

Any such institutional system must constantly evolve and challenge itself i order to meet higher standards. Sadly this does not seem to have been the case for education. It has stagnated, with little real change over the last half a century.

The sector has rarely been given as much attention as security, electricity or water – which is to say, not that much at all – and is consistently neglected.

Attempts to politicize the sector abound, and the lack of a unified curriculum is a failing. That a single Lebanese history textbook cannot be agreed upon is dangerous for future generations.

Many higher-education outfits exist thanks to dodgy licenses, and often serve as little more than money-making schemes.

If the children and youth of today are to have any hope of leading this country in the future, they deserve an education that meets their needs and offers them the necessary challenges.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 20, 2014, on page 7.




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