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

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

Chapter 28
PRIVATE LEBANESE SCHOOLS

MODERN EDUCATION in Lebanon goes back to the end of the eighteenth century when a Maronite patriarch, formerly a student in one of the oriental seminaries of Rome, opened a school at the monastery of 'Ayn Waraqah in 1789. This school therefore precedes by thirty- five years the elementary American school opened in 1824, and precedes 'Anturah College by forty-five years. Inspired in its plan by the seminaries in Rome, it gave instruction in Syriac, Arabic, Italian, Latin, philosophy, theology, and civil law, combining in its student body lay students as well as those destined for clerical life. It has often been called the mother of the national schools of Lebanon, and produced a number of learned Lebanese men of the nineteenth century. Among its distinguished alumni may be cited the linguist-lexicographer-journalist-encyclopedist, Butrus Bustani, already mentioned as one of the translators of the Bible into Arabic, Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, another linguist and journalist, and Monseigneur Yusuf al-Dibs, later Maronite Archbishop of Beirut and author of an eight- volume history of Syria, and founder of the well-known al-Hikmah College, which will be described later.1 This school remained open well into the nineteenth century. Other schools were founded later by Maronites, Greek Catholics, Syrian Catholics, and Greek Orthodox (of the latter, the Syrian School at Dayr al-Shurfah and the Greek Orthodox School of Three Doctors are the best known), but they did not seem to have had the same influence as the school at 'Ayn Waraqah. Bustani founded the National School in Beirut, which prepared students for the American University of Beirut during its early years.

The Greek Catholics founded a school in Beirut known as the Patriarchal School, which is still in existence as one of the prominent schools of Lebanon. Later the Muslim Charitable Purposes Association founded a school in Beirut, in 1876. Down to the present day, private schools have been founded by sects, associations, and individuals in such numbers that it is impossible to enumerate them.

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1
See pp. 506-9.

-503-

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