The Lebanese Education Ministry has decided to reopen all schools for blended learning as of April 21, after closing for more than three months. Minister of Education Tarek Majzoub said the move to return to blended learning is related to the rate of vaccination among teachers.
But the head of the Lebanese Doctors’ Syndicate Sharaf Abu Sharaf warned that since the vaccination process started in February, it has covered only “5 percent of the Lebanese, with 10,000 persons working in the health sector who have still not received the vaccine.”
Majzoub said: “The education in Lebanon is in danger, especially the good education that used to be equally provided for poor, middle, and rich classes. The harsh economic conditions have affected everyone. Therefore, we must cooperate to save the academic year. We have nothing left in Lebanon but education, and our goal as a ministry is to save this academic year.”
The ministry has announced the schedule for the official exams, which will be taken in person. The Grade 12 Baccalaureate exams will take place on July 26, and the required curriculum will be reduced. The exams, according to the minister, will not be “formal,” but “the difficulty level will be studied.”
The government canceled the official exams last year, instead of granting certificates to students in line with their grades in school and from online learning. The Grade 9 Brevet exams will be replaced by school tests, which will be prepared and controlled by the ministry. The exams will take place on July 12.
Schools in Lebanon have relied on online learning since the beginning of the year. A surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in schools following the holidays brought about their closing. Some private schools and universities violated closures by imposing attendance, while abiding by COVID-19 precautionary measures.
Abu Sharaf, who is also a pediatrician, said that “closing educational institutions has increased psychological problems among students, such as stress, introversion, social media addiction, obesity, and domestic violence. Western reports have even shown an increase in the suicide rate, in addition to a significant fall in the intellectual development of students, especially those under the age of 10.”
The decision to return students to schools excludes those with health issues, who can continue learning remotely. However, the return does not exclude students with special needs, those who have learning disabilities, or public schools’ students enrolled in the afternoon shift, such as Syrian refugees.
The return to schools has been taken during a crippling financial and economic crisis in Lebanon that has further deteriorated during the education shutdown.