EDUCATION FOR SOCIAL COHESION ATTEMPTS IN LEBANON: REFLECTIONS ON THE 1994 AND 2010 EDUCATION REFORMS

  • Maha Shuayb Centre for Lebanese Studies
Keywords: Lebanon, education reform, social cohesion, peace building

Abstract

Following the end of the Lebanese civil war, education was put forward as a major means for rebuilding Lebanon and promoting social cohesion and unity. A huge education development plan was launched in 1994 culminating in a new national curriculum in 1997 and the production of new textbooks.  Although the quality of education improved in public schools, dropout rates continued to be high, particularly amongst the most disadvantaged groups. As education inequality soared, a new education reform strategy was launched in 2010. This paper investigates how social cohesion has been tackled in the two reforms (1994 and 2010). In defining social cohesion, the study adopts Nancy Fraser’s framework of social justice which includes redistribution, recognition, and participation. In addition, Novelli, Lopes Cardozo and Smith’s (2014) fourth component of social justice ‘reconciliation’ is added to the analytical framework. Findings revealed an emphasis on distributive justice by widening access to education including during early years and tackling causes of dropout, specifically in the 2010 reform. Reconciliation, in particular nationalism and promoting one narrative of the past, is given a major priority. Conflict is reduced to religious intolerance while structured barriers to social justice, including the use of languages that are considered foreign as mediums of instruction, the marginalisation of disadvantaged groups, a lack of participation, and sectarian nepotism, were downplayed. Critical reflections on the past has been suppressed in favour of building a national memory.  

Published
2016-12-19