We are not the state to support Lebanon's education: International organizations

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2023-02-02 | 05:57
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We are not the state to support Lebanon's education: International organizations
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5min
We are not the state to support Lebanon's education: International organizations

The Education Ministry and the educational associations hold UNICEF, the World Bank in Lebanon, and everyone working under the title of "donors" responsible for the disruption of the current academic year.

They withdrew pledges they made at the start of the year to "fund financial incentives in foreign currency for teachers and staff in the educational field" to start the school year smoothly and continuously without strikes.
 
Al-Akhbar contacted UNICEF and the World Bank to understand what happened between them and the ministry at the start of the academic year and what is being circulated about broken pledges.

The shock was that both organizations did not hesitate to answer clearly.

"We are not the state," they said.

This means "not recognizing any of the promises made by the caretaker Education Minister, Abbas Halabi, about the role of donor countries in saving the academic year."

This is what everyone who attended the session on September 28 with the UNICEF official in Lebanon, Edouard Beigbeder, remembers.

During that meeting, Halabi mentioned "paying 130 dollars as incentives," and Beigbeder reportedly raised his thumb in agreement with the minister's words.

No promises 

However, in response to Al-Akhbar's questions, UNICEF confirmed that it "did not undertake to pay incentives to teachers in foreign currency."

On the other hand, it mentioned "future payments in US dollars, limited to parent funds and school committees."

The World Bank did not indicate that any amount will be paid this year, saying it is in the process of "discussing with the Education Ministry the possible support that can be provided for the reopening of schools."

The World Bank went on to underline that it will support the government in taking concrete measures to improve the efficiency of the education sector in Lebanon and its long-term financial sustainability.

UNICEF: There is no plan to integrate Syrian students with Lebanese ones in one shift

During the past academic year, the World Bank confirmed its "approval and the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pay $37 million from the Lebanon Syrian Crisis Trust Fund (LSCTF) to provide financial incentives to public school teachers."
 
"Practicing work throughout 90 percent of days, as a minimum for workers in the morning and evening shifts," was a requirement for receiving payment.

Based on this request, "the Education Ministry has re-entered the data of teachers and employees in the Security Information Management Software (SIMS), including general financial information and teaching hours, in addition to assigning an independent monitoring body the task of verifying teachers' attendance and other things, as well as the task of making sure that incentives are paid to qualified teachers and school staff only.

However, UNICEF also confirmed the existence of the private auditing company.
 
No integration of the Syrian students

Following the end of the first semester of the academic year in the public sector, it appears that "Beigbeder's raised thumb" did not mean anything.

There are no incentives to be paid, no money in the Ministry, and the academic year is on the brink.

Moreover, UNICEF denied "the existence of any plan to integrate the Syrians with the Lebanese in one shift, and in return called for all children to receive a good and comprehensive education, regardless of their nationality."
 
Accordingly, the donors will not pay any money to the morning shifts teachers and "will not cover any allowances or additional social assistance."
 
"Act like a country"

In response to a question about "the organization's vision of a way to address the teachers' strike," UNICEF highlighted "the inability of the international community to replace the government."

It also called upon it to "give priority to long-term solutions, through the 2023 budget, supporting teachers, and preserving their dignity."

Additionally, in response to a question about "how to monitor the funds paid by organizations in the Education Ministry," UNICEF affirmed that "it stopped the direct transferring of funds after the 2021/2022 academic year, and approved direct payment to teachers in the evening shift through OMT."
 

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