lebanon go public 2024
lebanon go public 2024

Lebanon: Empowering teachers for resilient public education

published 3 June 2024 updated 12 June 2024

The public education system in Lebanon has been severely disrupted by multiple crises, including the Beirut port explosion in 2020, economic collapse, political instability, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent bombings in the south. In response, Education International’s affiliates in the country are driving the Go Public! Fund Education campaign, advocating for a well-resourced, equitable public education system that empowers, respects, and values teachers and education professionals.

Public education in Lebanon is critically underfunded, with less than 2 percent of GDP allocated to the sector since 2020. This lack of investment has led to overcrowded classrooms, unsafe school buildings, and insufficient educational resources. Furthermore, the financial hardship faced by education workers due to irregular salary payments and the sharp depreciation of the local currency has exacerbated the crisis, resulting in teacher strikes and mass dropouts from the education system.

Go Public! Mobilising for change

Against this backdrop, Education International (EI) and its Lebanese member organizations—the League of Public Technical and Vocational Teachers (CETO), the Ligue des Professeurs de l'Enseignement Secondaire Public du Liban (LPESPL), the Ligue des Professeurs de l'Université Libanaise (LDP-UL), the Public Primary Schools Teachers League in Lebanon (PPSTLL), and the Teachers Syndicate of Lebanon (TSL)—organized a Go Public! Fund Education planning workshop on May 3-4 in Beirut.

The workshop was a crucial step in uniting teachers from across the country to develop strategic actions and collective advocacy efforts under the campaign. By bringing educators together, the workshop aimed to build a cohesive plan to address the funding shortfalls and advocate for systemic changes to improve Lebanon's public education system.

Sessions included discussions on the current challenges and priorities, campaign achievements, and future plans, as well as a press conference held on 4 May. Angelo Gavrielatos, EI Campaign Manager, led a presentation on the campaign, emphasizing the importance of a well-resourced equitable public education system. Participants engaged in planning sessions to set clear objectives, develop strategies, and outline activities to achieve their goals.

“In Lebanon, over 80 percent of the population has been pushed into deep poverty and economic hardship. Those who have the means to escape the country are leaving. These complex and linked issues are impacting every aspect of people’s lives and jeopardizing children’s education and future,” stated Manal Hdaife, President of the EI Arab Cross-Regional Structure and PPSTLL regional branch leader.

Hdaife emphasized, “The social and economic crisis in Lebanon is turning into an education disaster where vulnerable children risk never returning to school as child labor has expanded and girls have been forced to marry. The worst hit are the poorest children and the country’s large number of refugees. That is why we are now launching the EI campaign in our country: So that every child gets the chance to develop their full potential for a sound, peaceful, and sustainable Lebanese society.”

Support for teachers in crisis settings

The workshop underscored the recommendations from the UN High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession, particularly those relevant to crisis settings like Lebanon. These recommendations stress the need for:

  • Ensuring regular payment of salaries: The UN High-Level Panel recommends the establishment of a Global Fund for Teachers’ Salaries to provide timely and regular payments to teachers in crisis-affected contexts. This is crucial for Lebanon, where teachers have faced months without pay, exacerbating their financial struggles and impacting their ability to teach effectively.
  • Ending public-sector wage constraints: The Panel calls on international financial institutions to end public-sector wage-bill constraints and austerity measures that negatively impact education spending. This includes ensuring that teachers' recruitment, retention, and wages are not compromised by financial policies. For Lebanon, this is vital to ensure that the education system is adequately funded and teachers are fairly compensated.
  • Investing in teachers: Prioritizing investment in teachers through competitive salaries, high-quality training, and continuous professional development. This long-term funding approach is essential to attract and retain qualified educators, thereby enhancing the quality and sustainability of Lebanon's education system.
  • Ensuring professional practice and social dialogue: Establishing national commissions that bring together teacher unions and governments to address critical issues in education, including teacher training, professional development, and working conditions. These commissions should foster coordinated social dialogue and collective bargaining to ensure that teachers are at the heart of policymaking.
  • Guaranteeing equitable funding and putting an end to austerity measures: The Panel urges governments to ensure equitable funding for education and sustainable investment in the teaching profession. This includes calling for an end to austerity measures that impact education, ensuring that public education systems are adequately financed to provide quality education for all.

A call to action

Education International’s Go Public! Fund Education campaign advocates for policies that ensure adequate state funding and resources for public education globally. Investing in education is crucial for building equitable and democratic societies where every child has access to quality education.

For more details on the Go Public! Fund Education campaign, please go here.