Lebanon’s ‘Pillar’ of Catholic Education at Risk of Collapsing

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World |  May. 29, 2020
Doreen Abi Raad

BEIRUT — Catholic education — long one of the pillars of Lebanese society — is in danger of collapsing due to the country’s dire economic crisis.

A public letter to the president of Lebanon, signed by the General Secretariat of Catholic Schools in Lebanon sounded the alarm, warning that 80% of the country’s Catholic schools are at risk of closing for the coming school year “because of the economic situation and the neglect of the state in the performance of its duties.”

“This forced closure will force hundreds of thousands of students” to resort to public education, “not to mention the loss of jobs by tens of thousands of teachers, employees and workers, and to the increase in unemployment and poverty in the country,” the letter stated. “This danger touches on the very essence of Lebanon's identity and mission.”

The emergency facing Lebanon’s private educational institutions mirrors the near-collapse of the country’s economy. Just in the last few months, more and more of the middle class have become poor.

Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite Catholic patriarch of Antioch, has often referred to the country’s private education system, in particular Catholic schools, as “one of the pillars of Lebanon.”

More than two thirds of Lebanon's students (pre-kindergarten to grade 12) are educated in private schools, totaling around 710,000 students, with approximately 200,000 attending Catholic schools. (To continue reading)