Education International
Education International

Lebanese teachers suffered heavy losses in summer of war

published 3 October 2006 updated 3 October 2006

Lebanese teachers’ unions estimate that 25 teachers were among the approximately 1,000 civilians killed in this summer’s attacks by Israeli forces. About 50 schools were completely destroyed and 500 more were severely damaged.

This is the heavy price paid by the Lebanese school system after 33 days of war, not to mention the immense suffering of thousands of students and their families.

To demonstrate solidarity with the Lebanese teaching profession and concern for their severe losses, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen met with the Lebanese teachers’ unions on 28 and 29 September.

With help from EI, the unions have started a program providing financial assistance to teachers who were injured, and to the families of teachers who were killed.

Van Leeuwen also met with the Lebanese Education Minister, Dr. Khaled Kabani, and with the General Secretary of the Catholic Schools in Lebanon, Father P. Marwan Tabet.

The Minister emphasized that although the massive destruction of schools, homes, businesses and public infrastructure caused enormous pain for Lebanese people, it is not the deepest wound.

"It is not just the material damage that is so devastating," according to Dr. Kabani. "Many of us are [psychologically] traumatized. And we also need to train our teachers in helping children to overcome their trauma."

Van Leeuwen also met with the teachers and the principal of a heavily- damaged public school in the southern suburb of Beirut.

Among donor countries, the United Arab Emirates has so far made the largest contribution to the reconstruction of schools in Lebanon.

EI also supports the membership assistance programs of the Israeli teachers unions. On 23 September, van Leeuwen met with representatives of the Israeli teachers’ union in Tel Aviv. They estimated that four teachers were among those killed by Hezbollah rockets, and about 30,000 teachers were forced to flee their homes in northern Israel.