Tariq Al-Majzoub, the Minister of Education in the caretaker government, has earlier announced the path for the return of face-to-face learning and the involved strategies.
However, three weeks away from the reopening of public schools for the new academic year, the ministry’s plan is still in the theoretical framework and has yet to reach the stage of implementation.
If temporary or sustainable solutions are not found soon enough, the return-to-school process will be further challenged amid the difficult economic conditions and the collapse of the national currency.
That includes the fuel shortage crisis, the rise in the value of annual premiums, and the inability of parents to cope with the prices of books and stationery.
Parents are asking about the textbooks and question the extent of their ability to pay high prices based on the dramatic devaluation of the Lebanese pounds, especially that most parents in Lebanon have more than one child in school.
In a call with the Head of the Educational Center for Research and Development, Dr. George Nohra told The961 that these textbooks were distributed free of charge last year thanks to UNICEF.
“Last year, the UNICEF funded the printing and distribution process for books for public schools,” he said, and it is expected that the organization will do the same this year.
He clarified that “there are still negotiations going on regarding this year’s funding” and there’s a 99% chance that UNICEF will take charge of providing these textbooks, which are required by the Lebanese Ministry of Education, to the students of the public schools, at no charge.
“The printing, and distributing process will be done according to a strategy developed by the UNICEF,” he noted, adding that “e-books will be available for both public and private schools.”
Dr. Nohra issued a decision last year about rotating books between students and classes in public schools to benefit from the same book more than once and to reduce printing costs.
It remains that students of public schools are not the only ones under financial duress during this severe economic crisis. Most parents of private schools in the country are also calling for help when it comes to books and their high prices.
The ministry as a whole is trying to ensure a new academic year for the youth of Lebanon as the educational sector is stepping into another harsh year considering that no solution to the crises is being even tackled by the ruling body.
Instead, the political deadlock obstructing the formation of a new government continues to impede any possible solutions to the crises under which the country is sinking.