Lebanon News

Education minister wants classrooms in prisons

Education Minister Elias Bou Saab checks on students from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital as they attend their official exams in Beirut, Thursday, June 11, 2015.

BEIRUT: Education Minister Elias Bou Saab said that teaching facilities should be constructed for the inmates of Lebanese prisons, after visiting exceptional test centers Thursday, the second day of Grade 12 official exams.

Bou Saab made the comments after visiting the Baabda Women’s Prison, where one inmate sat for the exams. The tour also included the Abdullah Al-Alayli High School and the Children’s Cancer Center.

Identified as H.N.A, the prisoner sat for the Life Sciences Baccalaureate exam, the first time in Lebanese history an official exam has been administered inside a prison.

The education minister decried the deplorable conditions in the jail. “What I saw today is not something anyone should have to bear.”

“I demand the building of lecture halls and teaching [facilities] at the prisons, so that prisoners can have hope in life,” he said. “I have contacted the interior minister [Nouhad Machnouk] about this issue, [to ask that it be] part of his project to build new and appropriate prisons.”

From the prison, Bou Saab headed to a test center for students with special needs and learning disabilities at Abdullah Al-Alayli High School in Mazraa. “At the center for special needs I noticed the dedication to following up [with students], which ... offers hope for people with disabilities and learning difficulties,” Bou Saab said. “This must be [further] developed in education.”

A dozen students took their exams at the Children’s Cancer Center, where Bou Saab ended his tour.

“We saw great hope in the eyes of the children and youth,” he said, praising the work done to provide them with the care and comfort they needed to take the exams.

Grade 9’s official Brevet exams began on June 5, while the Baccalaureate exams for Grade 12 students started on June 10. Practical tests for the technical Baccalaureate were held on May 11, with the written exams scheduled for June 22.

Bou Saab said he expected high levels of success. He said the official exams were not harder than those that students take in school.

“The exams are [being administered] normally, despite the situation the country is going through,” he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 12, 2015, on page 2.




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