That’s pretty much where Lebanese students get to in high school:
Kristina and Ali sit side by side in their history class and together they learn about the Phoenicians and the Romans, the Greeks and the Ottomans.
But when it comes to Lebanon’s more recent, turbulent past – their school teaches them nothing.
Modern history is not part of the curriculum in Lebanon and, just like thousands of other children, Kristina and Ali – who are both 14 – turn to their families for answers their history teacher cannot provide.
In the late 1990s, Mr Messara and his colleagues from across Lebanon’s religious communities came together in an attempt to create some such historical narrative.
The book never saw the light of day because, at the very last moment, the Minister of Education at the time did not agree with one of the historical interpretations and refused to allow the textbook into circulation.
I did a little research; the Ministry of Education formed a committee in 1997 to produce a unified modern history book to delve into the civil war era. It took them 3 years but Lebanese historian Antoine Messarra and his colleagues succeeded. So when it came to the final sign off to use as the official Lebanese history book, the Minister of Education, Muhammad Youssef Beydoun, (this happened in 2000 and I believe he was Education Minister at that time, correct me if I’m wrong) rejected the textbook. Surprising? Not really, thanks to this article I stumbled on:
Lebanese Education Minister Muhammad Youssef Beydoun and his Syrian counterpart, Mohammed Halabi, signed an agreement earlier this month at the UNESCO building in Beirut that stipulates close cooperation between the two countries at all levels of the education sector. Beydoun said the accord is aimed at “strengthening bonds between Syria and Lebanon” in academic and technical education. The agreement, which Halabi insists is a fulfillment of the 1991 Treaty of Brotherhood, Cooperation, and Coordination between Syria and Lebanon, is a significant step toward achieving Syria’s goal of integrating the two countries’ educational systems.
And I thought we had only handed our Foreign Ministry to the Syrians on a silver platter. I’m quite naive. Though a positive development is that the BBC mentions that Bahia Hariri, our current Education Minister, will push for its release, though I’m very sketical that this would be done anytime soon.