Education in Arab Countries of the Near East: Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon

By Roderic D. Matthews; Matta Akrawi | Go to book overview

Chapter24
ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

TWO UNIQUE features of education in Lebanon distinguish it from education in the rest of the Arab world. Lebanon has the highest rate of literacy among the Arab states. It is estimated that between 70 and 75 percent of the children of primary-school age are attending school--a considerably higher rate than in the neighboring countries. This rate would have been higher had it not been for the addition to Lebanon after World War I of some regions which were much less advanced educationally than the original Mount Lebanon. Many village communities in Lebanon have what amounts to or approximates universal literacy.

The second remarkable fact is that this comparatively advanced stage has been accomplished largely through the efforts of private and foreign schools rather than through publicly supported schools. Indeed, before World War I, autonomous Lebanon had only one public school, the Daudiyah at 'Abay, which was supported by the Lebanese government for the education of the children of that predominantly Druze region.1 The private and foreign schools were largely sectarian. This gave education in Lebanon a predominantly sectarian character, emphasizing sectarian differences, the remnants and effects of which are felt to this day.

Even in 1945-46 the number of pupils enrolled in the public schools was smaller than the number of those enrolled in either private schools or foreign schools. Higher education is conducted entirely in foreign institutions. Secondary education is shared between private and foreign schools, the Lebanese Ministry of National Education having no complete secondary schools. Primary education is conducted in all three types of schools--public, private, and foreign--with the public schools in the third place in enrollments. In addition to primary schools, the Ministry of Na-

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1
Government schools existed in those parts of the present Lebanese Republic which were parts of the neighboring Ottoman provinces. Among these were the cities of Beirut (now the capital of Lebanon), Tripoli, Sidon, and Tyre, as well as such districts as 'Akkar, Buqa', and Marju'yun.

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