September 26, 2009

Going Postal

On Saturday, I run errands. I leave the house with a list of some 9 ‘things-to-do’, and if I’m lucky, I manage to get to #6 on the list by 5 o’clock.
Today I did not make it past #2.
# 1 was ‘fill up gas’. I got that one done. # 2 involved, whom else, the Ministry of Education. This time it was for an Arabic Exemption paper. And that’s where it ended.

The reason why I need an Arabic Exemption paper is because my son has reached grade 9 this year; the year when Lebanese students must sit for their ‘Brevet’; a very demanding Arabic state exam. My son speaks Arabic well, but that is the ‘lougha ammi ( العامية), or what we call the ‘street Arabic’. As far as I know, it does not really have an (official) written version, it is spoken, or colloquial Arabic only. It is the Arabic we use in our daily lives. The exam however, is in (and about) classical Arabic, or (الفصحى) fushah; The Arabic that is used for official documents, newspapers, books etc. Now although both languages overlap each other in some areas, they are totally different in many others. The Arabic program in school, or its teachers, or its methodology/pedagogy, or all of the above are however, horrendously outdated, and as such, not a very appealing/child-friendly subject matter. It entails for instance that parents sit with their children every evening and wrestle their way through vast amounts of homework. My Arabic is pitiful, and hubbie’s classical Arabic is, well, let’s say it’s been a while since he was in school.

As a result, there is no way on Earth my son is ever going to be able to pass that Arabic exam. However, if you don’t pass that exam, you are not allowed to enter High school. And thus I need to get an exemption. This will allow him to continue his schooling, without the Arabic state exam. You get that exemption form from . . . . . . . . . yes, the Ministry of Education.

But as I am about to shoot everyone in that particular building over other paperwork that still hasn’t been processed yet for reasons that will elude anyone with an IQ over 12 (the IQ needed to work at that Ministry), I decided to work my way around it, and go postal. In order to avoid going postal. Through Libanpost. It is the well organized Lebanese postal system that will provide all kinds of services as an in-between between citizen and government. This way you don’t have to set one foot in a ministry, but the local post office will organize everything for you at a very decent fee.

And so I went to the post office with the paperwork. The lady behind the counter got to work. And soon stopped. There was a catch: if you are a foreigner, you get automatic exemption. You only need to show you residency permit, and you’re done. If you are Lebanese, you get exemptions if show records of school attendance outside Lebanon for a minimum of 3 years. My son has neither a residency permit, as he is Lebanese, nor outside school attendance, as he has always lived in Beirut. She called and called and called, but the answer was the same everywhere.

“Sorry Mam, but I cannot take you request, because I need either one of these documents. This is what the Ministry of Education stipulates.”

And thus I will need to move my sorry ass personally to that Ministry of Education.

Yet again. I’ll try and avoid ‘going postal’.


angie nader said...

i dont know if this helps...but in downtown beirut they have a office called "amideast" they always helped with papers for schooling that my son needed. especially papers that needed to be taken to the ministry of education.
maybe they can help. they are basically a bridge between foreign education. they arent cheap, but they are fast.

m. said...

From what I know of the system, you're screwed, so it probably is a good time to go postal.

If he is Lebanese and has lived in Lebanon, it is extremely difficult to get an exemption.

Best bet would be to cancel his Lebanese passport, and let him use the Dutch one.

I'm only half joking btw.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sietske,

I think the solution will somehow lie with his "dutch" passport, otherwise, I think the Wasta option may be the only way.

mike said...

talk to the dutch embassy they maybe able to help you.

Anonymous said...

Ha! The Dutch embassy! I assume you've never dealt with the Dutch embassy in Lebanon. If there is one thing they are good at, it is NOT helping (specifically if you are Dutch). You got to be kidding. The Dutch embassy. Khod bah.

Marillionlb said...

I had the same problem for my son. After the 3rd attempt at Libanpost (Broumana) the lady there found the necessary form and I was able to do it without having to set foot in the ministry of Education. I had to provide them with his Lebanese Id card, his British Passport, and his grades for the past 3 years certified by the school (here in Lebanon). I am sure you can do it via Libanpost and save yourself alot of hassles.

Sietske said...

Thank you all for your kind advices. Marillion, I tried your way at the postoffice, and it works!!!! Am I glad I'm rather annal when it comes to my administration, because I could find all his grades of the past 3 years. Thanks!!!

Marillionlb said...

Glad I could be of help.

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