Lebanese authorities have made a commitment to re-examine Education International's request to establish an office in Beirut, out of which its programmes supporting education unions in the Arab region are coordinated.
Earlier this week, on 3 and 4 March, Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen and Regional Coordinator Huda Khoury met with the Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Education Minister Elias BouSaab and the Minister for Industrial Relations Hussien Hajj Hassan to discuss legal obstacles that stand in the way to the registration of EI's office, which has been operating out of the Lebanese capital since 2012.
Education International’s four Lebanese member organisations, who took part in the meetings, stressed the importance of their country hosting EI's "Arab Hub". The formal registration was delayed as the government wanted to ascertain that EI's principles and rules were not in contradiction with Lebanese law.
Van Leeuwen explained that EI’s prime objectives, namely to achieve quality education for all children and young people, and to enhance teachers' professional status, could not be in violation of any national law and policy, and that the organisation’s founding principles were derived from the UN Charter.
The Lebanese member organisations say they believe that the hesitation of the public authorities to allow EI to operate from Lebanese territory is related to an ongoing conflict between the unions and the government regarding teachers' salary scales and the frequent industrial action to which they have resorted in the past three years. Following discussions with the public officials, and despite the remaining issues to be resolved, Van Leeuwen said he remains optimistic that the government will soon approve EI's registration.