Thursday, May 04, 2006

Lebanon looses again, and as usual, priorities are all messed up!!!

Today, I read a particularly disturbing article on the Daily Star. According to a report, it now appears that one of the few things Lebanese used to be proud of is no more!

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!!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's quite alarming and I hope something will be done soon. Imagine that in 10 years they managed to have students graduate from high school not knowing basic trigonometry!

Anonymous said...

I am not sure this is very worrying. Think of how well the American high school students would fare in such exams... Not well at all...It is exactly because we are losing the rote learning that we fare less well. And the americans are still leading in technology and research (maybe not for long).

On the other hand, this could be due to a lack of motivation, because the Lebanese think they are rabba.

KK

JoseyWales said...

KK,

In the US it may be no problem cuz bright people from all over come or want to come to the US.

I don't know any bright people who want to move to Lebanon.

Anonymous said...

Raja, I have not looked at the original article, and I will. I have to say though, that one must take some of these studies with a huge grain of salt. Students from what schools were tested, etc etc. I cannot believe that on average our students are that weak.

FGA

the perpetual refugee said...

Hoo needs sceins and mtamtics anniwayes?

Anonymous said...

FGA,
you are right, but still these results are publicized and the international community will only see the results. So, it's a problem, as everything else that's happening in this country....

hummbumm said...

Well to borrow a phrase from Caddyshack, one of my favorites: The world needs ditchdiggers too!
It would be good for most lebanese with their haughtiness towards manual labour!

Anonymous said...

Fellow concerned citizens,

I re-iterate my categorical rejection of the notion that our students are sub-educated. I believe the test was performed strictly on children of vocal Aon supporters, hence the unrepresentative downward shift in averages.

FGA

Anonymous said...

So today the government issued a major resolution regarding the appointment of judges to fill vacant seats. It was boldly rejected by Emile Lahoud, who refused to sign off. Neither Michel Aon nor any of his insignificant lackies seemed phased by the matter. I suppose the promise of a Baabda seat outweighs Aon's civic duties as an MP.

FGA

ghassan karam said...

To pronounce a trend as disturbing requires valid data besides only hearsay. There is no doabt that the results of the international competition in question are worisome to say the least but I am not certain that , based on the lack of evidence, one is entitled to conclude that the performance has seriously deteriorated from the levels that it enjoyed in the past. What are these previous levels and when were they attained? Is the current performance worse than that of 1999 for example or is it worse than what the level that was attained ,say , in the 60's. Re we sure that there was a deterioration or is the judgement based only on wishful thinking? My sense is that any wide measure of academic performance in Lebanon would have been very low by international standards because education was and still is reserved to those that are economically well off and that is only a sliver of the Lebanese society.

reem said...

Raja,

As mentioned by anon 12;48, these studies have to be viewed critically (even if from WB). you'll be surprised by the number of pitfalls that can occur in statistical studies...
Plus, the study dates from 2003...maybe we're back on track?!...It may be true that the results hold for lebanese students in general, but then you would have to make a distinction between private an public education...at least at primary level

ghassan karam said...

The only reliable data that I have uncovered is the one reported gy the 2002 UN Arab Development Report and the educationalpicture of the Lebanese past is not a rosy one The data for 1992 show that the mean years of schooling for those over 15 years old was an abysmal 4.4 years which is lower than the figure for the world as a whole 5.2 years , lower than the figure for Latin America and the Carribean 5.4 years but above Syria, 4.2 years. Illiteracy in 1999 was still at 14.4 percent. (Keep in mind that the literacy bar in developing countries is NOT the same as the developed countries. All what literacy implies is the ability to sign ones name and read a few sentences. Lebanon cannot compete with Eastern Europe, the CIS , many Asian countries and even a few in the ME and NA.

A.M said...

So not only go seek for jobs out of lebanon, but look for good education! Very sad!