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The Teachers’ Syndicate in Lebanon is set to go on strike in all private schools across the country tomorrow, Tuesday, unless private educational institutions comply with the teachers’ demands. This follows the withdrawal of the Union of Private Educational Institutions from the agreement sponsored by the Minister of Education, which seeks to secure funding for the compensation fund and a raise in salaries for retired teachers.

This agreement was reached in response to the rejection by the caretaker government, led by Najib Mikati, of a law aimed at funding the compensation fund without proposing an alternative solution. As a result, more than 4,000 retired teachers were deprived of salary increases six times higher than those offered to their counterparts in public education. However, the Union withdrew from the agreement at the last minute due to divergences among its members. In addition, some schools resisted contributing one million Lebanese pounds per student to collect the required 60 billion pounds per month for the compensation fund.

In this context, Nehme Mahfoud, president of the Private School Teachers’ Syndicate, accuses the government of neglecting its responsibilities, particularly following the deferring of the law concerning the allocation of 650 billion pounds in financial aid to Parliament. This fund was meant to be disbursed to the compensation fund with the aim of reinforcing its financial resources. Last week, a consensus was reached between the Teachers’ Syndicate and the Union of Private Educational Institutions, with the participation of parent committees and the director of the compensation fund. The agreement outlined a payment of one million pounds per year (approximately 10 dollars) for each student in private schools, specifically designated for retired teachers from private education. This arrangement followed the reception of the draft agreement announced by the Minister of Education. Teachers perceive this as a confirmation that educational institutions do not want any solution for retired teachers and that, despite their claims to the contrary, they are indifferent toward the well-being of retirees.

According to recent information, Abbas Halabi, the Minister of Education in the caretaker government, has expressed his intention to rekindle and sign the agreement before the date of the strike. This initiative aims to safeguard the academic year in private schools.

Meanwhile, the Teachers’ Syndicate in Lebanon remains steadfast in filing a complaint against the government and its president to the State Council. The Syndicate contends that a serious constitutional violation has occurred, accusing them of legally deferring the indemnities to Parliament. It is significant to highlight that the same parties, which initially voted in favor of the laws, later reneged on their commitment by voting against the rights of retired teachers within the Council of Ministers. These parties consist of Hezbollah, the Amal Movement, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), and the Socialist Party. The non-respect of the retired teachers’ rights undermines trust in the teaching profession, portraying it as one that does not ensure a decent life for educators during both their active service and retirement. This reality requires new stances and decisions to restore the confidence of graduates in the education sector.

As the strike called by the Private School Teachers’ Syndicate is less than 24 hours away, a solution is yet to be found. The Syndicate asserts that it has provided ample time for over four years to address this issue; however, no one has taken the initiative to resolve it. On the contrary, there has been a lack of commitment to ensuring a decent minimum livelihood for retired teachers. This is evident through the constitutional violation of deferring laws for retirees from private education or the withdrawal of the agreement reached at the Ministry of Education.