Set politics, rhetoric aside

File - A general view shows tents of Syrian refugees at the Lebanese border town of Arsal in the eastern Bekaa Valley, Wednesday, November 20, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

Whether it’s expired meat, the cultivation of cannabis crops or humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, any issue of public concern in Lebanon has the potential to become heavily politicized.

The process often sees politicians sweep the commotion under the rug, or drown it in a fog of vague rhetoric and contradictory stances until the public loses interest.

The education sector is naturally no stranger to this state of affairs, so it’s not surprising to see hundreds of thousands of students and their families in a sort of limbo, as teachers threaten to disrupt end-of-year examinations unless they, civil servants and military personnel receive a long-deserved wage adjustment.

The problem is that politicians are obscuring the actual figures related to the wage hike, after months of meetings, committee work and lobbying have failed to produce a viable way to tackle this issue in the past.

Politicians would gain credibility if they could focus only on the figures and explain exactly how this increase could be funded, while leaving out the grandstanding rhetoric. The unions representing teachers and their allies, meanwhile, should realize that they won’t be able to get everything they want and consider that they are dealing with state institutions in flux, with a vacancy in the country’s top political post.

They and politicians could band together for once to leave politics out of the debate while being ready to make the necessary political compromises, so that students and their parents don’t end up paying the biggest price.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 09, 2014, on page 7.




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