Teachers are expected to announce Thursday an end to their boycott of correcting exams, which has dragged on for weeks and left 100,000 students across the country unsure of their future.
The move comes in light of pledges by the Cabinet to pass a new salary scale for the public sector no later than the end of August, enabling teachers to receive a raise among other benefits.
“We reached a point where we didn’t want students to lose their official certificates,” Nehme Mahfoud, the head of the Association Private Schools Teachers, told The Daily Star.
“Some ministers do not care about the future of students and wanted to give them a note attesting that they passed the official exams instead of official certificates,” Mahfoud said.
Students in Lebanon must pass grade 12 official exams to join university and grade 9 official exams to enroll at high school. Around 100,000 students took the exams this year.
Teachers, who stopped correcting exams in June, began their work again only to resume their boycott in July, arguing that the Cabinet went back on its promise to pass the scale in June. The Cabinet argues that it is looking for sources of revenues to finance the new salary scale.
Mahfoud, whose association is a member of the Union Coordination Committee, a coalition of public sector employees and teachers at public and private schools, said that UCC leagues will meet separately to make decisions.
“The Union Coordination Committee will hold a meeting tomorrow [Thursday] at 12 p.m. and announce its decision,” Mahfoud said. “The decision is likely [to be] positive.”
The positive developments began after representatives of the UCC attended a meeting for the ministerial committee studying the new salary scale, chaired by Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
“The committee promised, in the presence of the prime minister, that it [the new salary scale] will be passed by the Cabinet no later than the end of August,” Education Minister Hassan Diab said. He voiced hope that the scale would be passed even before Eid al-Fitr, which falls on Aug. 19.
The new salary scale will allow teachers to benefit from a salary raise introduced by the government to the private sector in January. In addition to the raise, the first four pay jumps that teachers receive would increase from L.L. 35,000 to 40,000 each month. Teachers receive a pay jump every two years. The new salary scale will be implemented retroactively starting July 1.
Mahfoud said that if the Cabinet does not keep its promise, teachers could still go on strike during the second round of examinations.