Lebanon News

Students, teachers rally against move to rent school

BEIRUT: Students, parents and teachers stormed the administrative offices of a school in Baabda Tuesday after learning that the administration was considering renting out the campus, the state-run National News Agency said.

A deal had reportedly been reached that would result in the school’s teachers being laid off and its students being left without a school.

A parent who protested told reporters in televised remarks that parents and teachers had learned that the Baabda campus of the Antonine Fathers’ School (Lycee des Peres Antonins) would be “rented out at the end of this year to Lycee Abdel Kader,” which is currently located in Beirut.

Another protester, a teacher, told local media that the school would be rented for “27 or 30 years” and that Lycee Abdel Kader would not absorb the students or teachers from the Antonine Fathers’ School.

The school’s administration acknowledged that it was considering the rental deal. According to the parents and teachers, a representative of the head of the Antonine Maronite Order, which runs the school, met with a delegation of parents and teachers, and the representative “did not deny” that the school could be rented. Local media reported that a group of students then stormed into the meeting, causing the representative to leave without giving comment to reporters. The demonstrators shattered a window and protested in front of the principal’s office, according to reports.

Footage captured by local media showed angry protesters gathering around the principal while some students cried. “This is our school – they do not have the right to sell our school,” one of the students said.

One parent expressed outrage that such a decision could be taken in the middle of the school year: “How will teachers properly educate our children knowing they will be out of jobs by the end of the year?”

The principal later said in televised remarks that the Antonine Maronite Order has not yet commented on the matter publicly because negotiations are ongoing, claiming that he himself first heard that the rental contract was under consideration “only yesterday [Monday].”

Late Tuesday, a statement released by the Antonine Maronite Order said no decision had been made to sell, rent or close any of its schools. It cited a recent study on potential actions based on the economic challenges facing the schools after the government approved a new salary scale that stipulated a pay raise for all teachers.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 07, 2018, on page 2.

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