Too cool for school? Lebanon grants students free passes on exams

Published August 16th, 2014 - 01:39 GMT

Education Minister Elias Bou Saab issued passing statements to all Grade 12, 9, and the technical schools students, who underwent official exams, after the Syndicate Coordination Committee rejected to budge an inch on the correction of the exams.

“Those who rejected granting students passing certificates should have thought about their best interest,” Bou Saab said during a press conference at the Ministry of Education.

“All students will be able to enroll in public or private universities in Lebanon and outside the country and others will be raised to upper classes,” the minister added.

He called on students to collect their passing statements from the ministry of education, saying: “Your exams passes would be enough to prove that you passed.”

Bou Saab during his press conference lashed out at the SCC, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees.

“You have to reconsider your endeavors... Your stubbornness made you lose your pressure card.”

He slammed the teachers who rejected to grant students passing certificates, telling them “you should have prioritized the interests of students.”

“I continuously urged the SCC to back down on its decision as the parliament will not convene anytime soon due to the political impasse in the country,” the minister told reporters.

“A political party refuses to attend any parliamentary session ahead of the election of a new head of state,” Bou Saab added, “I have given many chances regarding the official exams and i took my time before i take any decision.”

He accused the SCC of jeopardizing the future of 148,000 students.

However, the minister said that he will keep on supporting the righteous demands of the SCC regarding the new pay hike.

“We will preserve the dignity of the SCC.”

Bou Saab's decision followed a meeting between Speaker Nabih Berri and head of the parliament's education committee MP Bahia Hariri in presence of Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil.

The Sidon MP reportedly asked Khalil last week for 30 percent loan of the total value of the new wage scale, but added that the latter rejected her request before the adoption of the contentious law at the parliament.

But the SCC rejected Hariri's suggestion, saying: “Those who can head to parliament and pay 30 percent of the new wage scale's total value can manage to pay the full amount.”

The SCC’s suspension of the exams correction had left Grade 12 students in disarray as they are awaiting the results to enroll in university while Grade 9 students, who underwent the Brevet exams, need to pass their tests in order to enter the secondary school.

On Thursday, the cabinet tasked Bou Saab to issue passing statements for students who underwent official exams in order to rescue their future.

In June, Bou Saab struck a deal with the SCC to hold the exams but not correct them until the salary scale was approved by the parliament.

The minister had yielded earlier this week to the demands of the SCC not to mark the official exams, hoping that the dispute would be resolved before Saturday or he will be compelled to issue passing statements.

The SCC had held a protest near the education ministry as part of a general strike aimed at pressuring lawmakers to approve the public sector wage scale and amid a showdown with contract teachers, who are in favor of correcting the exams.

Although parliamentary blocs have expressed their support for the public sector's rights, they have warned that Lebanon's ailing economy would suffer if the total funding was not reduced from LL2.8 trillion ($1.9 billion) to LL1.8 trillion ($1.2 billion).

They have also disagreed on how to raise taxes to fund the scale over fears of inflation and its affect on the poor, and over attending parliamentary sessions to legislate amid the ongoing presidential vacuum.

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