6 minute read


Preprimary & Primary Education

Preschool or preprimary education did not receive serious attention in Lebanon until the 1940s. Since then, it remained in the private sector till the beginning of the 1970s. Actually, in 1968 the Ministry of Education had defined in decree number 9099 the four stages of preuniversity education: le jardin d'enfants (kindergarten), le primaire (primary), le moyen (intermediary), and le secondaire (secondary), without mentioning the la prematernelle (pre-maternal). In addition, the decree 9099 was not put into effect till the end of 1971. Thus, the age of acceptance at this phase of this cycle remained uncertain, changing between three and four years of age, making this phase of the cycle two years in the public schools and three years in the private schools (decree 295 of August 1974 and decree 720 of September 1993).

The new educational system recognizes the fact that preschool education starts at conception and continues until the age of four, so the preschool phase is divided into two stages, before and after birth. First, before birth, parents are prepared to form a sane family through the help of different administrations of the ministries of Education, Health, and Social Affairs, and other municipalities as well as special international agencies. Second, after birth and until the age of four, the prior-mentioned administrations continue to help and advise the parents so the infants grow in an atmosphere conducive to their physical, cognitive, psychological, and social development.

At the age of four, children are admitted into a pre-school education program wherein they spend four hours daily for a minimum of five days a week. The preschool curriculum consists of four types of activities. First, children are greeted, their health situation is put under control, and they are given the opportunity to express themselves (free individual activities) and, thus, be prepared to participate in their other daily activities. Second, children get engaged in collective activities in class or outside of class on the playground, such as playing, singing, drawing, and other activities aiming at providing an appropriate educational climate, which can help the progressive development of the children's physical, intellectual, psychological, social, and emotional abilities so as to enable a smooth transition for them from the home environment to the school one without any major difficulties. Third, there are guided activities, which aim at giving children coherent and complementary experiences to the previous activities. Finally, the fourth type of activity consists of free plays in the presence of kindergarten teachers and under the control of a psycho-sociologist. This last type of activity is usually interrupted by certain breaks reserved for nutrition and rest. The role of teachers consists of helping children adjust and like school through playing with them, telling them stories, and teaching them to recognize differences between colors, between shapes of objects, or between letters and how to pronounce them.

The primary cycle of education lasts for six years instead of five as it was in the old system. It starts at the age of 6 and expands till the age of 12. It is obligatory for all citizens and can be considered as the primary phase of compulsory education, which progressively becomes an investment until the age of 15. This cycle is divided into two modules of three years each. The first module comprises the first, second, and third grades, and the second module comprises the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. Students are admitted in the first grade when they are six years old by December 31 of the year of registration in school.

The number of periods in each year of this cycle is 30 per week and 6 per day. The duration of each period is a minimum of 45 minutes in the first module and can be augmented in the second module. This cycle is considered as the preparatory one for the other following cycles. The major objectives of it are to master the language and communication with others; to comprehend the basics of sciences and mathematics; to scientifically understand the social environment; to get attached to the national identity, country, and moral values; to practice sports, artistic, and manual activities; and to stimulate confidence in themselves, autonomy, and cooperative work in school as well as outside of school.

The curriculum in the primary cycle consists of teaching Arabic language (six to seven hours per week, depending on whether students are in the first or second module), French or English language (six to seven hours per week, depending on whether students are in the first or second module), and mathematics (five hours per week in each of the two modules). The remaining of the 30 hours per week are reserved to teach civics, history, and geography (one hour each per week); sciences (two to five hours per week depending on the module and year); arts (three to four hours per week depending on the module and year); physical education (two hours per week); and other activities. Certain schools reserve at least one hour a week for teaching religion, even though religion is not an obligatory subject in the curriculum. The new educational system allows Lebanese students to progress from the primary cycle to the intermediate cycle without having to take any external official examinations as was the case in the past.

According to the new educational system, the intermediate cycle consists of three years and is designed for students aged 12 to 15. However, since independence it was approached in two different directions. On one hand, it has been considered an integral part of secondary education aimed at training or educating the national elite who are gifted, as decree number 7001 of October 1946 defines it. On the other hand, it is considered as an extension of the primary cycle that aims at preparing students to either enter into the technical schools or the active life of work, as delineated by decree number 6999 of the same year (1946).

At the end of this cycle, students take an intermediate certificate examination (brevet certificate), which is administered by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport. Public schools require students to pass this exam before they can be admitted to public secondary schools or to the teacher training schools. Private school students can take this exam, but they are required to pass their private school exams or entrance exams before they can be allowed to enroll at the secondary level.

The intermediate cycle curriculum includes teaching Arabic language and literature (six hours per week), foreign language (six hours per week), a second foreign language (two hours per week), sciences (six hours per week), and mathematics (five hours per week). The remaining of an overall 34-hour total is divided among civics, history, and geography (one hour each per week); information technology (two hours per week); arts (two hours per week); and sports or physical education (two hours per week). The number of weekly periods for all the classes in this cycle are 34 total, with a minimum of 50 minutes per period. These periods are divided over five days a week.

Major objectives of this cycle are introducing students to information technology; instructing them a second foreign language; increasing the time allotted for sciences; increasing diverse artistic, manual, and sport activities; familiarizing students with professional activities as well as the new technology and its multiple uses; helping students become civilized citizens; permitting them to discover their individual capacities to pursue their academic careers or integrate into an active life; developing their fundamental competencies to communicate and express themselves in a creative manner; establishing a positive attitude in them toward manual professions; and developing their confidence in themselves as free, cooperative, and responsible individuals.

The intermediate cycle, along with the primary cycle, constitute what may be called a fundamental education. The weekly periods for all the classes of this cycle are 34, with a minimum of 50 minutes for each period.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceLebanon - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education