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In a noteworthy development, employees of the Compensation Fund for Educational Staff in private schools apologized for suspending all reviews for two days. This action underscores the financial difficulties that the fund has been encountering since 2019, with its monetary revenues declining and depreciating in the Lebanese currency, compounded by additional financial losses in banks.

Private educational institutions continue to allocate 6% of each teacher’s actual salary in the national currency, ranging from one to four million at most, whereas they aid teachers in US dollars, separate from their base salary calculation. Similarly, teachers contribute 6% of their salary to the fund.

In light of this situation, operational expenses surged from an annual 4.5% to nearly 45%, resulting in a substantial financial deficit for the fund. This is primarily attributed to the shift of most expenses to US dollars, while revenues remain in Lebanese pounds without any increases. Furthermore, these expenses are expected to continue rising, driven by the necessity of boosting the salaries of fund employees, whose value declined after Lebanon’s financial crisis.

In addition to the outcry from retired teachers who have seen their monthly pensions lose value, concerns have risen among the employees responsible for managing the affairs of 30,000 teachers in private schools and 15,000 retirees. According to union sources, their salaries are insufficient to cover their living expenses. The root cause of this crisis lies in caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s rejection of the financial aid law for the fund, amounting to LBP 650 billion, which was submitted to the Parliament, as well as the legislation concerning educational staff in private schools. Consequently, retired teachers, represented by lawyer Roland Asmar, filed a complaint against Mikati with the State Council, seeking the suspension of the decrees’ implementation.

Yet, complaining is a protracted process, and the sole resolution lies in a session of the Parliament’s General Assembly to endorse the return of both laws to the government and demand their publication. The teachers Union asserts that the current situation is untenable and stresses the urgent necessity for a legal solution beyond the specific protocols between the union and the federation of institutions. Securing foreign currency revenues is imperative to promptly avert the fund’s bankruptcy.

Under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and with the consent of the caretaker government, the agreement between the Teachers Union and the Federation of Private Educational Institutions allocated LBP 100 billion to support the Compensation Fund for Educational Staff in private schools. As a result, the fund was able to provide retired teachers with salary increases equivalent to six months’ pay for both January and February 2024.

The agreement stipulates that schools pay LBP 180 billion by February 15, a deadline that was not met by all institutions. The non-compliance heightened concerns among retired teachers about the fund’s ability to cover these raises in the months ahead, knowing that a monthly LBP 60 billion are needed to pay these increases.