Lebanon schools to move to blended learning from April 21
First phase of return to school will begin with Year 12 pupils
School pupils in Lebanon will begin returning to schools on April 21, Education Minister Tarek Majzoub announced on Thursday.
Pupils at public and private schools will resume their education in person as well as learning online under a blended learning approach.
Mr Majzoub said the return to schools will happen in three stages, starting with Lebanese Baccalaureate pupils in Year 12.
The second stage includes Brevet pupils in Year 9 and kindergarten pupils, set to return on May 5.
The rest of the classes will return on May 17, in the third and final stage.
Pupils who are unable to return to school because of health concerns will be exempt from the plan and can continue distance learning.
Mr Majzoub said official exams will go ahead as normal this year, despite calls for them to be cancelled.
"The education minister's job is not to take the easy way out," he said. "Cancelling official exams is a political and populist decision."
Exams for Year 12 pupils will begin on July 26, while exams for Year 9pupils will begin on July 12, Mr Majzoub said.
The decision came after Lebanon's national coronavirus committee released a statement advising the education sector to resume activities in line with virus precautions and safety measures.
Education in Lebanon was disrupted in late 2019, when nationwide protests began and roadblocks made it difficult to commute to schools.
The country was then hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the Beirut port blast, and a crippling economic crisis, all of which have affected the education sector.
On March 8, the education minister announced a week-long suspension of classes to protest against the state's inaction in supporting the sector against the mounting crises.
Classes resumed on March 15 after meetings with officials led to what Mr Majzoub called “positive outcomes”.
One of the main demands for a safe return to schools in Lebanon was prioritising teachers and school staff in the national vaccination drive.
Teachers received their first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 29, marking the beginning of the vaccination campaign in the education sector.
Another demand was financial support for schools and teachers, which Mr Majzoub reiterated in the conference on Thursday.
"We proposed a law to the parliament and we're hoping they will pass it, because it aims to support public and private education, as well as help ease the burden on teachers," Mr Majzoub said. "Salaries that were initially not enough for teachers are definitely insufficient now, and teachers' financial state is much worse now.
"This is not poetry or empty talk, it's reality," he said.
Updated: April 15, 2021 06:28 PM