Are the students in Lebanon ready for the official exams?

Authors:

Amid a worsening economic and social crisis and an academic year full of strikes and school interruption, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) announced that official exams for Grades 9 and 12 would take place starting July 6, 2023. The decision to conduct this year’s official exams under dire academic and economic conditions urges us to question the quality of education offered to grades 9 and 12 over the past year and assess students’ readiness to sit for this year’s official exam.

For that purpose, we conducted an online survey of 1,096 students (40% in private schools and 60% in public schools) distributed across all eight Lebanese Governorates.

Our survey findings reveal a deterioration in the quality of education provided to grade 9 and 12 students in both private and public schools. This was evident by the reduction in the number of school days and teaching hours received among private and public school students, with the latter receiving fewer schooling days and learning hours.

Moreover, the gap in quality and access between private and public schools was also evident in the percentage of private school students (67%) who reported that their school was able to cover all the material for this year, compared to in public schools (25%). In addition to that, only 40% of public school students reported good education quality, compared to 73% in private schools.

The deterioration in quality and access to education and the gap between private and public schools was also evident in the percentage of students who reported good academic performance. For instance, 65% of private school students reported good academic performance compared to only 34% in public schools. Moreover, when looking at the readiness of private school students, our results reveal that 68% and 48% of grade 9 and 12 students are ready to sit for this year’s official exam compared to only 44% and 21% in public schools, respectively.

The results above highlight the importance of accounting for the loss of learning and deterioration in the quality of education before sending official exam students to an examination they are prone to fail. Besides, our findings reveal the significant gaps present between private and public schools and the need to rescue the public schooling sector, which has become the only affordable option for the majority of residents in Lebanon.