Private school tuition is likely to rise as the government moves toward approving a salary hike for the country’s teachers, a move that is being opposed by private schools and greeted with cautious optimism by teachers. Representatives of the main blocs in the Cabinet last week promised teachers that it would pass the new salary scale this week after the proposal receives the endorsement of a ministerial committee currently studying it.
“The ministerial committee was supposed to meet Monday, but I don’t know if this will happen since the Cabinet is convening the same day,” Nehme Mahfoud, the head of Private Schools Teachers Association, told The Daily Star Sunday. “Still, we have been promised that things will be over this week.”
On the other side of the dispute is the Union of Private Educational Institutions which argues that the altered salary scale, in its current form, “is dangerous to institutions, the country and the people.”
It is planning to meet Wednesday to discuss developments of the raise, and said it would then take a stance that it hoped would help counteract “hasty decisions that have a negative impact on the Lebanese economy and all people.”
The union maintains that the new salary scale gives teachers a raise that exceeds that of private sector employees, exhausting the resources of schools and parents.
In January, all workers covered by Lebanese labor law received a pay hike, with the exception of teachers and public sector employees.
The proposed salary changes will give public and private school teachers – as well as other public sector employees – the salary raise introduced to the rest of the country earlier in the year.
Teachers currently make 60 percent more than other public sector employees, and this will remain the same.
The union said that if Cabinet passes the salary scale without careful consideration, the result could be rising costs that force some private schools to close.
Joseph Harb, a representative of the General Secretariat of Catholic Schools, told The Daily Star that in order to stay open, schools would be forced to raise tuitions if Parliament adopts the salary scale in its current form.
“I cannot say now how much fees will increase,” he said, adding that there was a law governing tuition changes.
Harb said that according to Law 515, issued in June 1996, committees of parents meet at the beginning of each academic year to set tuition.
“If school’s expenses are high, then the rise in tuition fees for each student will be high and vice versa [for low expenses],” Harb said, adding that fees were also related to the number of students at a school.
But Mahfoud, rejecting that line of argument, maintained that private schools had increased tuition fees over the past two years under the pretext that they would raise salaries of teachers, but did not actually carry it out. “Where did this money go?” he asked.
After receiving pledges from the ministers to move forward to raise salaries, teachers said they would end their grading boycott and correct grade 9 and grade 12 official exams.
Teachers set the grading rubrics for grade 12 exams over the weekend and will do so for grade 9 exams Monday.
The Daily Star