Beirut (Agenzia Fides) – The Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssef III Younan, has given instructions to exempt the families of Syrian Catholic students who attend schools connected to the Patriarchate from the payment of school fees for the 2021-2022 academic year. This was reported by the communication bodies of the Siro-Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch, specifying that the exemption applies to the students of the Lycée Mathaf and the Deir El-Shorfa School. The patriarchal provision represents a concrete attempt to respond, at least in part, to the structural crisis faced by the Lebanese non-state schools, which make up the bulk of the national school system. This crisis has been aggravated in recent years by the state of economic paralysis into which the Land of Cedars has plunged. The measure to exempt Syro-Catholic students attending the schools of the Patriarchate from paying school fees was also taken for the previous school year 2020-2021, during which the pandemic crisis forced schools to keep classrooms closed and to experiment with distance learning systems, with not always satisfactory results. In Lebanon, the network of non-state schools and educational institutions seemed to be in trouble even before the Covid-19 pandemic, and denounced the progressive erosion of the resources necessary to ensure the continuity of educational work carried out at the service of the entire country (see Fides, 2/9/2017 and 5/7/2018).
At the beginning of September, as reported by Fides (see Fides, 6/9/2021), President Michel Aoun had announced the convening of an extraordinary conference to address the school emergency, which has now become an alarming national problem.
The announcement was released after a meeting between the Head of State and the representatives of the Federation of Educational Institutes, that had presented Aoun a memorandum containing data and documents that testify the now unsustainable condition and difficulties in which most of the educational institutions continue provide their services, exposed every day to the risk of closing the doors of their school buildings forever. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 30/9/2021)