March 27, 2013

Back to School

This may not mean much to you if you do not follow the news in Lebanon, but public schools are back in business again. Yesterday morning I heard their voices rising up from the court yard in the school next door. Public schools have been closed since February 19th, due to a conflict between the government and teachers regarding salaries. They (the teachers) were promised a raise, but that apparently never materialized. They suspended the open strike yesterday after the cabinet promised they would approve the raise. I fail to see how this changed anything, from one promise to another promise, but the kids are back in school.
Their salaries are pathetic. I tried to get figures, but apparently this is a well-kept secret. I do know from friends that it may take months before they get paid. It’s not like you get your money by the end of each month.
I got this bit of information from this newspaper:
 “We have children, we have school and university tuitions. Forty years working for the government, yet my salary barely reaches 1,800,000 Lebanese pounds ($1,197) [a month]. Isn’t that a shame?”
Her peer nodded in agreement, adding that she has been teaching at the secondary level for two years and her salary doesn’t exceed 980,000 Lebanese pounds ($652). “You can’t get married,” she said. “Rent is $600. How will my fianc√© and I get married?”
 Exactly how these people are supposed to buy their groceries is their own business. No wonder that their methods of teaching at times may seem ‘archaic’.  An IMSS from 2003 report states ‘Lebanon as the second from last among the 8 lowest countries on the list in the perceptions of teachers of how healthy the school climate is.’
I stumbled upon this little research: ‘Exploring the patterns of student-teacher interaction in elementary public schools . It is interesting how these teachers perceive their students. If this is an accurate representation of how they see their students, you understand why most parents bent over backwards to pay for private education. But then again, as a teacher, being paid this kind of salary, why would you care about students?

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