Lebanese students held a protest on Monday outside the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to reject the extension of the academic year and to demand their inclusion in the decision-making process.
During the demonstration, which was called for by the Student Committee, the Committee’s president, Omar Al-Hout, read out a speech in which he highlighted the importance of including students in the decision-making process.
This can be achieved, he said, through meetings of “the educational family’s components,” who are “directly concerned with this issue” and have the right “to express their opinion in a democratic way.”
“We stand today to confirm our rejection of extending the school year until the summer semester because most private schools are nearing the end of the annual course.”
Al-Hout said that the infrastructure of schools in Lebanon “does not allow receiving students during this period.”
He demanded that coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines be secured for students wishing to receive them before returning to classes, calling for the cancelation of the Brevet official exams.
Additionally, Al-Hout demanded that school grades be adopted for the Baccalaureate degree.
“We are not among those who demand the automatic promotion via a [pass] statement as some have been claiming. We are aware of the consequences of the statements, especially the ones that happened last year,” he explained.
Al-Hout also emphasized the necessity of deducting “35% of the tuition fees for private schools,” which, he said, constitute the operating expenses of these schools, noting that students have attended classes in person for no more than a month.
He then shed light on the struggle of Lebanese students abroad, who have not been able to receive transfers from their families despite the approval of the “student dollar law.”
Al-Hout rejected what he called “the dollarization of university tuition fees” in private universities in Lebanon and the adoption of the exchange rate of the [central bank’s] platform in calculating payments, “because the Lebanese pound is still officially at the exchange rate of 1,515 against the dollar.”
Finally, Al-Hout announced that there will be new escalating steps if the student demands are not met.
The protesting students tried to secure a meeting with caretaker Education Minister Tarek Al-Majzoub, but he was unavailable, so they requested an appointment to meet with him and explain their demands.
In parallel, a petition was recently launched in Lebanon calling for the cancelation of the Baccalaureate exams.