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Aug 26, 2020

UNESCO commits to rehabilitate damaged schools and support the education sector in the aftermath of the Beirut explosion

The Beirut Port explosion that occurred on August 4, 2020 caused partial or complete destruction of about 70 public schools and 50 private schools in Beirut and neighboring areas. Such devastation threatens to disrupt the new academic year and deprive about 55,000 Lebanese and non-Lebanese students enrolled in these schools of their right to education.

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Lebanon is located in the Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria. The capital city is Beirut. The official language is Arabic, with French, English and Armenian also used.


Lebanon’s educational system has been influenced by external factors that mean one student may receive teaching in a French educational system while another may be taught in an American system. For the past 150 years Lebanon’s educational system has been shaped by other countries and religions and this fact may have helped stabilize education amidst the turmoil Lebanon has experienced even in present day. Primary and secondary education is categorized into cycles similar to the French pattern.

Primary Education

The main influence on primary education is the French pattern of education. Primary education is mandatory beginning at age 6 and lasts for six years. The Intermediate level of education is three years in length beginning at age 12 and ending at age 15. Much like the French system, students must pass the Brevet exam to advance to the secondary level.

Secondary Education

The Secondary level of education lasts 3 years, beginning at age 15 and ending at age 18. The first year of secondary education students take general courses. The last two years students are streamed into a specialized area. Students pick streams that match academic strengths. Upon completion of the three-year cycle, students sit for the official Lebanese Baccalaureate exams in their respective tracks (four in all). Successful students obtain the Shahaadat Al-Bakaalouriya al Lubnaaniya l’il-ta ’liim al-Thaanawi or the Al-Bakaalouriya al-Fanniya.

Post-Secondary Education

Higher education in Lebanon is provided by Technical and Vocational Institutes, University Colleges, University Institutes and Universities. Only one of them is a Public Institution: the Lebanese University. Both the private and public sectors are administrated by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Technical and Vocational Institutes under the Directorate General of Technical and Vocational Education. University Colleges, University Institutes and Universities are under the responsibility of the Directorate General of Higher Education. Admission to higher education Institutions is based on the Baccalauréat libanais.

First Cycle, Academic

Some Institutions offer short courses (two to three years) leading to professional qualifications. Where longer studies are involved, the first stage leads, after three to five years study, to the Licence, Bachelor’s Degree or Diploma, depending on the Institution attended.

First Cycle, Vocational/Technical

Technical Education in Lebanon follows the French pattern mainly and begins at the secondary level of education. A student following a technical education stream earns the Baccalauréat technique. A student would then follow an appropriate stream based on specialization at the tertiary level. A student may receive the following diplomas through technical or vocational education:

  • Primary Education:
    • Certificat d’aptitude Professionelle (2 years beyond elementary cycle)
    • Brevet Professionnel (three years beyond elementary cycle)
  • Secondary Level:
    • Baccalauréat technique (culmination of primary and secondary education)
  • Post-Secondary Level:
    • Formation Professionelle de Maîtrise (3 years beyond intermediate cycle)
    • Technicien Supérieur (3 years beyond secondary cycle)
    • Licence Technique (4 years beyond secondary cycle)

Technical Education students receive training in a number of specialized areas including banking, restaurant management, industrial chemistry, mechanics and welding.

Second Cycle

The second stage involves more specialized work and leads, after one or two years of study beyond the first Degree, to the Maîtrise in Scientific subjects, the Master’s Degree at the American University, the Magistère, the Diplôme d’Etudes supérieures, and the Diplôme d’Etudes approfondies. In Medicine, the Medical Doctorate (MD) is awarded after seven years of study. It is a professional qualification.

Third Cycle

The third stage involves the writing of a thesis and leads to the award of a Doctorate. In French-speaking universities, a Doctorate is awarded after three years of study beyond the Diplôme d’Etudes approfondies.

U.S.-Patterned Institutions

There are also several universities in Lebanon that award degrees based on the US educational system including the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Lebanese American University (LAU). These schools are "chartered" and have legal permission to operate as higher education institutions in Lebanon. These schools use the U.S. (not Lebanese) system of credits, grades and degrees. The degrees are called bachelor’s, master’s, and PhDs based on an accumulation of semester credit hours and are conducted only in English (except for foreign language courses that may be included in the curriculum). The 4-year bachelor's degrees will often appear to be only 3 years in length on the transcript. This is because the Lebanese Government mandates a year of credit (30 semester hours) for the Lebanese Baccalauréat. They are, nevertheless, four year degrees.

Teacher Training

Elementary school teachers are trained at the Faculties of Education in public and private universities. The Baccalauréat is required for admission. After three years of study, students are awarded a Bachelor Degree in elementary and primary education. For secondary school teachers, The Faculty of Education of the Lebanese University offers 5-year courses leading to the Certificat d’Aptitude pédagogique de l'Enseignement secondaire. A Teaching Diploma (TD) in various fields (literature, physics, maths, etc) is awarded by Colleges and Universities.



Upcoming AACRAO Events

Crises as Catalysts for Transformation

Fall 2020 | virtual conference

Join us this fall for a virtual Strategic Enrollment Management Conference - Crises as Catalysts for Transformation: 2020’s Impact on Higher Education and Enrollment.

This three day, virtual conference will feature models for adapting to change, meeting challenges, and planning strategically post-pandemic.

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106th AACRAO Annual Meeting

March 28 - 31, 2021 | National Harbor, MD

AACRAO’s Annual Meeting is our largest convening of higher education professionals from around the world. Join more than 2,000 administrators in person or online as we work to address the issues facing today’s campuses, share goals and guidelines for meeting those challenges, and provide a forum for learning and sharing experiences.

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