Country Listing

Lebanon Table of Contents




The American University of Beirut campus
Courtesy Aramco World

The Lebanese, along with the Palestinians, had one of the highest literacy rates in the Arab world. The rate was estimated at nearly to 80 percent in the mid-1980s, but like most other spheres of Lebanese life, communal and regional disparities existed. In general, Christians had a literacy rate twice that of Muslims. Druzes followed with a literacy rate just above that of Sunnis. Shias had the lowest literacy rate among the religious communities.

The war adversely affected educational standards. Many private and public school buildings were occupied by displaced families and the state was unable to conduct official examinations on several occasions because of intense fighting. Furthermore, the departure of most foreign teachers and professors, especially after 1984, contributed to the decline in the standards of academic institutions. Admissions of unqualified students became a standard practice as a result of pressures brought by various militias on academic institutions. More important, armed students reportedly often intimidated--and even killed--faculty members over disputes demanding undeserved higher grades.

In the 1980s there were three kinds of schools: public, private tuition-free, and private fee-based. Private tuition-free schools were available only at the preprimary and primary levels, and they were most often sponsored by philanthropic institutions. Many private fee-based schools were run by religious orders.

Public schools were unevenly distributed among Lebanon's districts. The Beirut area had only 12.9 percent of the country's public schools, but a large number of Lebanon's private fee-based schools concentrated in or near Greater Beirut, (see table _,Distribution of Students by Muhafazat, Appendix A).

Data as of December 1987