SHARE

To serve this purpose, substantial amounts have been allocated throughout the years to establish new schools or renovate old ones and to adjust curricula, train teachers and increase their pay in a bid to encourage better teaching practices. Unfortunately, all these attempts have proved to be futile as the number of students applying for public schools keeps declining year after year. Although private schooling is known to cost a pretty penny in Lebanon, the Lebanese find themselves resorting to this choice due to their lack of trust in the academic performance of public schools. This low confidence in public education manifests itself clearly when public school teachers opt for enrolling their children in private schools rather than in the ones they work at.

Evolution of student population by education sector

Table 1

Scholarly year

Public schools

Private schools

Private free schools

Total no. of students

Student population

(%)

Student population

(%)

Student population

(%)

1972-1973

298,314

44.9

237,597

35.7

129,390

19.4

665,301

1991-1992

236,253

32.6

369,566

51

119,014

16.4

724,833

1992-1993

239,866

32.7

380,202

51.9

113,160

15.4

733,228

1993-1994

235,820

30.7

420,128

54.5

114,651

14.8

770,599

1996-1997

285,188

33

468,380

54.2

110,519

12.8

864,087

1997-1998

302,666

34.5

468,334

53.4

106,730

12.1

877,730

1998-1999

320,936

36.8

455,144

52.2

95,501

11

871,581

1999-2000

332,522

37.9

443,281

50.5

101,317

11.6

877,120

2000-2001

347,498

39

432,822

48.5

111,200

12.5

891,520

2001-2002

351,177

39

434,673

48.3

113,658

12.7

899,508

2002-2003

348,304

38.5

442,815

48.9

114,326

12.6

905,445

2003-2004

348,144

37.9

455,532

49.6

114,935

12.5

918,611

2004-2005

337,622

36.8

465,130

50.7

114,194

12.5

916,946

2005-2006

324,651

35.6

471,409

51.7

115,254

12.7

911,314

2006-2007

326,503

35.5

467,093

51

124,281

13.5

917,877

2007-2008

301370

33.2

480,440

52.9

126,391

13.9

908,201

2009-2010

285399

31.4

497,530

54.6

126,812

14

909,741

2010-2011

276119

30.5

504,024

55.6

125,728

13.9

905,871

2011-2012

275655

30.2

509,979

56

126,240

13.8

911,874

Source: Statistics published by the Educational Center for Research and Development

Table 1 illustrates the following:

  • Between 1973 and 2012, the student population in pre-university education increased from 665,301 to 991,874, i.e. by 246,573 students or 37%. This percentage differed from one sector to another. The public education sector recorded a decrease in student population from 298,314 to 275,655, i.e. by 22,659 students or 7.6% while the private sector featured a sharp increase of 114.6% or 272,382 students. A limited decrease of 3150 students or 4.4% was evident in private free schools during the same period.
  • Between 1992 and 2012, the student population grew by 187,041 students or 25.8%. The number of students attending public schools rose by 16.7%, equaling 39,402 students. Similarly, there was an increase in both private schools and private free schools with 140,413 additional students or 38% enrolled in the former and 7226 students or 6% in the latter.
  • The public schools’ share of students dropped from 44.9% in 1973 to 30.2% in 2012, a percentage expected to drop further in the next few years if no measures are taken to push up the levels of confidence in public education. On the other hand, private schools increased their share of student population from 35.7% to 56% while private free schools decreased theirs slightly from 19.4% to 13.8%.
  • Between 1996 and 2002, private school students moved to public schools, thus pushing its share of total student population from 33% up to 39% while the intake of private schools decreased from 54.2% to 48.3%. Private free schools witnessed very small fluctuations with their student share vacillating between 12.7% and 12.8%.
  • As of the scholarly year 2002-2003, the trend was reversed and the size of the student population in the public sector started shrinking, until it reached 30.2% of the total student population by 2012, down from 39%. Conversely, the share of private schools rose from 48.3% to 56%.
  • Private free schools’ student intake decreased from 19.4% in 1973 to 11% in 1997. This sector began its recovery in the following years and hosts today 14% of the student population. The decline in student numbers in this sector is ascribed to the closure of several private free schools due to their incapacity to bear overheads costs amid the delay in state contributions.

Should this trend of decline in the numbers of students enrolling in Lebanon’s public schools continue, it is expected that only 22% of the student population would attend state schools by 2050.

Evolution of School Numbers

The total number of schools rose from 2299 in 1992 to 2717 in 2012. The highest increase was seen in the private sector at 60%. The number of public schools grew by 1.6% while private free schools shrank by 1.6% as illustrated in the following Table 2.

Evolution of the number of schools by sector

Table 2

Year

Public schools

Private schools

Private free schools

Total

1991-1992

1262

673

364

2299

1992-1993

1296

703

362

2361

1993-1994

1287

786

373

2446

1998-1999

1343

985

391

2719

1999-2000

1324

972

381

2677

2000-2001

1335

959

377

2671

2001-2002

1361

967

370

2698

2002-2003

1366

967

371

2704

2003-2004

1394

1014

373

2781

2004-2005

1405

1026

368

2799

2006-2007

1393

1040

379

2812

2009-2010

1365

1073

369

2807

2010-2011

1281

1072

363

2716

2011-2012

1282

1077

358

2717

Source: Educational Center for Research and Development

The government does not spend on public education alone, but also on private education through the scholarships and subsidies it offers. In turn, parents bear the expenses of tuition in private schools, which translates in high costs for everyone, while all that is needed is a comprehensive plan aimed at improving the public school system so that the Lebanese have a more balanced choice which schooling sector they wish to choose.



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