Recent evidence suggests that "Lebanese students are falling behind in the key subjects of mathematics and science," according to a report by the World Bank. The country participated in the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Society) 2003 assessment and the results make disturbing reading.
Five domains in Math and Science were tested and not only did students in Lebanon perform significantly below the international average in the subjects as a whole, but they did not perform higher than average in any of the 10 domains.
Furthermore, Lebanon was outperformed by all the other countries of the region in science. Still more disconcerting is that when achievement is divided into five levels - advanced, high, intermediate, low and below the lowest level - almost no students reached the advanced level in either subject.
In science, 52 percent were below the lowest level and in math 32 percent. This indicates that even the highest quality schools in Lebanon are not producing students who meet international standards.
You know... I used to explain away Lebanon's ridiculous teaching methods (rote learning, lack of creativity, etc...) by saying, "heck... at least the system produces students with good math and science skills." Now though, it appears that even in Math and Science, we suck!
Akh... it's such a shame! Education is going to be another "before the war" lament that I'm going to convey to my grand kids!
Me in 50 years: "You know kids, before the Civil War, Lebanon was the banking center of the Middle East... Lebanon was also referred to by some as the 'Paris of the Middle East'... And, before that damned war, Lebanese were some of the brightest people in the region...."
Grand children: So Grand pa... how did we become such idiots?
Me in 50 years: Well children ... what can I say? We needed to fight Israeli injustice, occupation, colonization, expansionism, etc... and American imperialism, capitalism, corporatism, materialism, etc... and European chauvinism, secularism, liberalism, internationalism, etc ...
Everything else was just trivial ...
The education system, the economy, healthcare, etc... all these issues were not even worth discussion! We had to deal with what really mattered: Geopolitics! And more importantly, we needed to protect our culture from foreign influences! And no matter how dumb we got, the Iranians and the Saudis would send us some oil money to keep us alive.
Besides ... why reform an education system that worked well in the 60s and 70s? Why bother change it with the times? We even got all this money to make ourselves smarter... and rather than waste it in fixing a system that obviously worked, we invested it in advanced research and development! We were such geniuses!!