UNITED

NATIONS

CRC

Convention on the Rights

of the Child

Distr.

GENERAL

CRC/C/70/Add.8

26 September 2000

Original  : ENGLISH

COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD

CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES

UNDER ARTICLE 44 OF THE CONVENTION

second periodic reports of States parties due in 1998 *

Addendum

LEBANON

[Original : arabic

[4 december 1998]

_____________________

*For the initial report submitted by the Government of Lebanon, see document CRC/C/8/Add.23; for the consideration of the initial report by the Committee, see documents CRC/C/SR.282-284. The concluding observations of the Committee on the initial report are contained in document CRC/C/15/Add.54.

GE.00-44628 (EXT)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Paragraphs Page

Introduction 1 – 43

I.General framework for analysis of the status of children

in Lebanon 5 - 484

II.Definition of the child 49 – 9616

III.The children of Lebanon : essential facts 97 – 12129

IV.Policies on the rights of the child122 – 18440

V.The right to education185 – 25260

VI.Child culture, leisure and play time253 – 28281

VII.The health status of children in Lebanon283 – 34492

VIII.Disabled children in Lebanon345 – 387107

IX.Child labour in Lebanon388 – 415117

X.Children in situations of armed conflict416 – 456130

XI.Violence against children and their sexual exploitation457 – 487145

XII.Children and narcotic drugs, tobacco and alcohol488 – 515152

XIII.Juvenile delinquents and the justice system516 – 542159

XIV.Conclusion : Comments of the Committee on the Rights

of the child543 – 549169

Executive summary

Introduction

1.In 1994, Lebanon prepared an initial report on the progress achieved in implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child. At the time, satisfactory statistical data on population and on social and economic conditions were unavailable, as the work carried out by the official statistics bodies came to a halt with the outbreak of war in Lebanon in 1975. Since 1994, however, efforts have been made to address this fundamental lack of data, thus providing the statistical groundwork needed to prepare the present version of the second periodic report (1993-1998). In view of the detailed information and analysis which it contains, this key report serves as a basis for providing the concerned international authorities with an accurate picture of the status of children in Lebanon and as an equally suitable basis for the formulation of national policies aimed at improving that status.

2.Before embarking on the subject, two comments directed at the international bodies concerned, in particular the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, should be made.

3.The first comment is that the definition of a child as contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child is synonymous with a minor who has not attained the age of majority (18 years). Although a broad definition is both understandable and essential with a view to widening the scope of protection in consistency with the general approach towards developing the concept of human rights, the practice of categorizing all those aged under 18 into one group and under the same designation fails to acknowledge the existence of subgroups which are typified by cognitive, psychological and social characteristics that go hand in hand with distinctive needs and programmes. Lebanon's second periodic report therefore holds that the definition of the child as contained in the Convention should be widened to include the educational and psycho-social dimensions and that the different stages of childhood should also be specified, whether in the body of the Convention itself or in its annexes.

4.The second comment is that the progress achieved in implementing the Convention is linked to the progress achieved in creating an auspicious global climate and the responsibility of international bodies in that connection. The Convention takes the correct view that realization of the rights of the child in the manner which it envisages implies that the path of human development should be pursued, together with measures aimed at preserving the environment, solving the debt problem and eradicating poverty. The Convention also rightly urges Governments to respect their duties towards their children as they determine the indicators for measuring the effectiveness of their performance in this field. Conversely, however, the feeling is that insufficient effort is exerted to ensure that international bodies assume their share of responsibility in providing a suitable global climate for the rights of the child, particularly in connection with reviewing the international economic and political structures which have an adverse effect on the situation of countless millions of children in the developing world. Accordingly, Lebanon's report also urges the imperative need to devote attention to this aspect.

CHAPTER I

GENERAL FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS OF

THE STATUS OF CHILDREN IN LEBANON

1.1Introduction

5.Children inhabit the same world of achievements and failures as the adults who run it. On the threshold of the twenty-first century, human civilization can boast towering achievements in the fields of knowledge, technology, production, economics, culture, communications and so on, while at the same time, the human race suffers myriad complaints of inadequacies and failures. Typical examples of these are as follows:

-Despite the advancement of civilization and culture, many countries continue to be torn apart by war. Most of the victims are civilians, particularly women and children, and in far higher proportions than occurred in the conventional wars which took place in earlier decades.

-The benefits of scientific and technological progress and its impact on production and economic growth are still largely confined to a small number of countries, while most of the countries and peoples which represent the developing world continue to strain under the ordeal of poverty, illness and illiteracy.

-As much as it has unified the world and narrowed geographical distances, globalization has created a dual world penetrated by a bottomless pit that grows deeper by the year, turning alienation and marginalization into a widespread phenomenon on a global and nationwide scale.

6.Countries, peoples and often even entire continents are among the victims of this pattern in the development of civilization. Other victims are large population groups usually referred to as weak, vulnerable, oppressed, alienated, marginalized and so on, all of which are recent terms which express the new phenomenon already mentioned that has permeated virtually every country in the world. It is now recognized that children are among these unfortunate groups in our world of today, together with women, the aged, the disabled, young persons, the poor, the displaced, indigenous peoples, minorities and so forth.

7.The fact that extremely large population groups such as children (and women) form part of the above groups is both striking and extremely significant in view of the profound and long-term effect that it will have on the future of development for the next generations. The cause is attributable to a number of factors, primarily the predominance which the values of material profit have gained in recent years over other human values evolved over thousands of years. In the past two decades, for example, all aspects of the social and human world and any activities commonly construed as “unproductive” became secondary if they are inconsistent with the achievement of the economic objectives of growth. In order to appreciate fully the present and future worth of children, it is essential to move away from the conventional views of development to the modern-day approaches in which people and society are given priority with a view to meeting the requirements for ongoing sustainable development.

8.The World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children (1990), having observed this connection between the status of children, the overall global situation and the situation within each individual country, stipulated that Member States should undertake a commitment to the following ten-point programme aimed at:

(i)Promoting ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;

(ii)Enhancing children’s health, lowering mortality and promoting access to sanitation;

(iii)Eradicating hunger, malnutrition and famine;

(iv)Strengthening the role of women and promoting responsible planning of family size;

(v)Working for respect for the role of the family in providing for children;

(vi)Reducing illiteracy and providing educational opportunities for all children;

(vii)Ameliorating the plight of millions of children who are victims of apartheid and foreign occupation; orphans and street children; the displaced children and victims of natural and man-made disasters; the disabled and the abused; the socially disadvantaged and the exploited;

(viii)Protecting children from the scourges of war and armed conflicts and promoting the values of peace, understanding and dialogue in the education of children;

(ix)Protecting the environment so that children can enjoy a safer and healthier future;

(x)Working for a global attack on poverty, which calls for transfers of appropriate additional resources to developing countries, as well as improved terms of trade, further trade liberalization and measures for debt relief. It also implies structural adjustments that promote world economic growth, particularly in developing countries, while ensuring the well-being of the most vulnerable sectors of the populations, in particular the children.

9.The emphasis on this connection indicates the serious and comprehensive nature of the policies and measures which must be taken in order to improve the status of children globally and within each country over and beyond any general wishes of a merely moral nature. It is therefore essential to conduct a brief review of the social, economic and cultural conditions in Lebanon that can serve as a general framework for the purpose of addressing the status of children in Lebanon in a scientific and realistic manner.

1.2The general economic, cultural and social framework

10.In Lebanon, the status of children and the approach to developing that status are both determined by a host of influences which can be split into three groups:

-Socio-economic influences: These include macroeconomic policies, trends in social movement, social and regional disparities, the availability of resources, spending and investment priorities and the prevailing pattern in the exploitation of natural resources and the handling of environmental issues.

-Socio-cultural influences: These include the composition of the social fabric, the family and traditional social structures, the cultural and value system, comprising religion, customs, social traditions and prevailing morals, the characteristics and effectiveness of the education system and the role of the media.

-Socio-political influences: These include the Israeli occupation, recurrent attacks, the effects of those attacks, ideological strife and the enduring problem of the displacement resulting from the Lebanese war.

11.In order to avoid unnecessary detail and repetition, however, this report is limited to dealing with selected issues that are more relevant to the status of children in Lebanon, both now and in the future. As well as setting out the context which produced the current situation, these issues include the following points:

1.The characteristics of the social fabric and the attitude of the family and society towards children;

2.The sustainability of the current pattern of growth: the public debt and the environmental question;

3.Armed conflicts and their effects: the situation in southern Lebanon and the western Bekaa and the question of displaced persons.

1.2.1Children within the social fabric and the value system

12.Traditional structures and relationships continue to occupy an important and established place in the Lebanese social fabric, as well as in the cultural climate and the prevailing value system. They are also an essential element of the political structure. As such, they have a direct impact on the status of children in that the first manifestations of this traditional social pattern lie in the sharp distinction between the public areas of life (encompassing political, social, economic and legislative activity) and the private areas of life encompassing the family (as well as family relationships), which is regarded as territory in which outsiders are largely forbidden to interfere.

13.Such outsiders include the government authorities and the confessional authorities responsible for personal status law, who are entrusted with the most important aspect of family relationships in connection with the status of children and the protection of their fundamental rights. By contrast, the scope of direct government action is restricted to rights of nationality, legal protection, measures concerning juveniles and, in extreme cases, intervention on the basis of a complaint from a family member or relative in order to protect children from harm that is inflicted on them within the home. Here, it should be pointed out that, in connection with personal status, both the civil and confessional legal systems are consistent with the prevailing social values and traditions in so far as the family is regarded as having a special inviolability that must remain unbreached, except in particular circumstances. They are also consistent with the predominant view of the position of children within the family and the roles of all family members, in particular the conclusive decision-making role played by the head of the household (usually the father).

14.The family is therefore a special domain that is subject to a type of customary social law. This applies particularly to children, who are not yet regarded as citizens with rights that enable them to enjoy legal and social competence. The conduct of their daily lives is consequently subject to this law more than to any other public law, other than in the case of exceptions and dispute, as already mentioned.

15.It is essential to point out these characteristics in order to draw attention to the fact that the attitude towards children is closely connected to the characteristics of the society concerned and to its social and cultural heritage. Furthermore, any plans aimed at protecting and increasing children’s rights inevitably proceed through the development of adult attitudes towards children and towards the family and society so that the sharp distinction between the areas of family and society at large is gradually diminished on the basis of new beliefs and attitudes formed in this field.

16.With reference to the family and its role, a distinction must be drawn between two frameworks which differ in terms of their structure, function and effect on children. The first of these is the nuclear family (abbreviated herein to "the family") and the second is the extended family.

17.The nuclear family is the modern form of household. Consisting of a wife, husband and children, it is the smallest unit in the social order. Its basic functions are educational and psychological and, together with school, it is regarded as the most significant element in the education and upbringing of children before they achieve independence from the family. Providing an essential environment that is conducive to the physical, mental and social development of the child, the (nuclear) family is what is meant by care and support in the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In Lebanon, the family fulfils its desired functions of nurturing and protecting the child and providing the care and affection needed to enable him or her to develop and form a personality. In regard to the substance and assignment of roles within the family, however, it is noteworthy that, under the influence of the prevailing social and cultural climate, more importance is attached to the roles of adults and males. As a result, children generally have no say in the decisions affecting their lives, such as the times set for studying, playing, eating and sleeping, as well as choice of school or field of specialization and choice of friends, games and pastimes. Instead, such choices are usually determined by adults on the basis of financial resources and their own views as to what is best for the child.

18.Moreover, the tendency of favouritism towards males is conducive to further discriminatory treatment against the girls in a family. It is no exaggeration to say that such treatment is particularly evident in the role which girls play in helping with domestic tasks, whereas boys are favoured with games and leisure time. It should be mentioned, however, that none of the several studies conducted recently pointed to any real distinction in terms of fundamental rights, such as the right to education, health care and nutrition. Finally, it should also be noted that it is probably somewhat arbitrary to make generalizations on this subject, since family behaviour, role assignment and attitudes towards children and their position in the family vary according to the educational, vocational and social characteristics of those responsible for the family. The proportion of families who embrace modern-day criteria for raising children that are more in conformity with the letter and spirit of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is constantly increasing, although there are no numerical data available by which to assess the size of increase.

19.There are two types of extended family: The first comprises a straightforward increase in the numbers of the nuclear family without the occurrence of any particular change in its educational functions; the second comprises a family structure composed of the clan and is a continuation of sorts of the traditional tribal structures which are passed down. The political role assumes more significance in this structure of family-cum-tribe, which is the basic unit in the system of sectarian political representation.

20.The Lebanese war (1975-1990) had contrasting effects on the nuclear family. On the one hand, the pressures leading to disintegration began to emerge as a result of enforced displacement and migration, the death of a family member, particularly the breadwinner, changes in places of accommodation, work and study, the strains of day-to-day living and so on. On the other hand, there was a kind of fallback onto the family as a protective and safe environment, as well as a revival of various forms of family solidarity as a means of overcoming the traumas of the war and adjusting to the security, political and economic pressures to which the family is subjected. This expansion of roles strengthened the close connection between the nuclear family and the first type of extended family, either because the nuclear family was joined by various relatives and next of kin or because living accommodation was shared or adjacent as a result of the war conditions and the dwindling economic resources needed for a family to maintain its independence. Also strengthened was the close connection with the structure of the family-cum-tribe and the confessional group, both of which, in addition to their previously mentioned political role, have the resources to provide protection and other services.

21.These changes which took place during the war and which continue to this day place a particular type of pressure on the educational and psychological functions of the nuclear family, especially in regard to the status of children. The nuclear family, which runs its affairs independently, offers more consistency than the extended family when it comes to dealing with the development and education of children, as interference from different relatives can lead to confused rules of behaviour and upbringing. Within the extended family, the potential also exists for overemphasis on the authoritarian element of upbringing at the expense of the element of parental love and affection.

22.In accordance with the survey of statistical data on population and housing, estimates are that extended families and nuclear families plus relatives account for 13.2% of resident Lebanese families and comprise 17% of children, compared with nuclear families, which account for 78% of families and comprise 82% of children.

23.There is an obvious overlap between the values and institutions of the family framework and those of the religious and confessional framework. The religious framework occupies an extremely important place in the value system, given that the family and the overall social framework are saturated with religious values and ideas about the family, family roles and children. The family is therefore a vital organic component of the prevailing culture, a situation which brings with it extremely positive elements (emphasis on the values of affection and tolerance, on the innocence and purity of children and on the need to ensure their care and well-being). None the less, it also has negative elements. The immediate link between family relationships, attitudes and religion, for instance, allows for less flexibility in tackling the arena of the family, as it is more difficult to adapt legislation, ideas and attitudes in line with the modern science of education in view of the encroachment of implicit religious assumptions.

24.The overlap with the confessional framework is primarily institutional in nature, for in addition to their judicial role in matters of personal status, the confessional groups also play a role in providing social services through an extensive network of health and educational institutions and non-governmental organizations working in the fields of welfare, relief and development. Consequently, they often steer a middle course between the family and the wider community. Furthermore, they play a direct role in education by means of their own curricula and educational institutions.

25.To summarize, it can be said that children in Lebanon are raised within the nuclear family, which serves as an unavoidable influencing factor. It is not, however, alone in this role, which it shares with three other institutions, namely the extended family, school and the confessional group. These institutions fulfil their designated roles against a social and cultural backdrop that is affected by a whole host of different factors, from national policies, social traditions and modern-day cultural trends to economic and social influences which place strains on family life and produce voluntary and involuntary changes in the functions, rights and attitudes of individual family members.

Factors influencing the upbringing of children in Lebanon

EconomicfactorsThe childSchoolThe family

Governmentpolicies

The extended family

Modern trends in child upbringing

Modern trends in child upbringingTraditional culture

The confessioal group

1.2.2Available economic resources and priorities for allocation

26.In order to make headway in implementing the requirements for compliance with the letter and spirit of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, two inherent conditions must be fulfilled. The first is to ensure the economic resources needed to carry out the commitments arising out of the Convention and the second is the ensure that there is the political will to do so. The best means of indicating that political will is to allocate ample resources to the priority of guaranteeing the rights of the child and the present and future interests of children.

27.Lebanon has emerged from a lengthy war which lasted from 1975 to the end of 1990 and left deep marks on the society, as well as on the State, the economy and the people. Sufficient years have passed since the halt of military activities for the Lebanese to embark fully on the task of rebuilding their nation and society, endeavouring in hope to solve their problems and improve their standard of living as quickly as possible. The years of war, however, cannot be held responsible for all the problems now facing the Lebanese, who disregard the structural imbalances which contributed towards the outbreak and continuation of the war. Nevertheless, it is also decidedly unobjective to ignore the profoundly negative impact of those years, as the question of addressing their economic, social and psychological effects is more complex that that of halting military activities and requires a longer time frame.

28.In that context of analysis, we shall briefly discuss the general features of the overall economic framework which determined the status of children during the period 1993-1998. We shall also discuss the manifestations of government policies as illustrated by the pattern in accordance with which the available resources are allocated to social affairs in general and to child-related issues in particular, as sufficient data is now available to make this possible.

29.Here is not the place to elaborate further on the human and economic losses resulting from the war. Suffice it to say that the material losses were estimated at a cost of $25 billion and that the gross domestic product following the halt of military activities (1992) was two thirds lower than it had been in 1974. The most striking evidence of the general impoverishment of the Lebanese was the collapse in the exchange rate of the national currency, coupled with the high inflation rates during the second half of the 1980s, which averaged about 120% per year and reached a record high of 400% in 1987.

30.Since October 1992, successive Governments have been faced with tackling this legacy and preparing the country to face the challenges of the future in an unwelcoming global climate. Accordingly, they strived to carry out this dual task, which often had the conflicting objectives of producing an economic revival on the one hand and safeguarding economic and monetary stability on the other, while also balancing the growing just needs and wide expectations of the Lebanese people with the economic resources available for the purpose of achieving the sustainable growth vital to any modern-day economy.

31.In order to meet these complex challenges, the project for reconstruction and economic revival was based on heavy government investment in the Lebanese economic infrastructure with the aim of creating an environment that would promote economic growth. Financial and monetary measures were also introduced to control liquidity and inflation and tackle the deficit in the public purse which began to accumulate during the war years. This ambitious programme, however, encountered difficulties on several counts, as in order to achieve these objectives, the Government was obliged to raise public spending, thus increasing the budget deficit and leading in turn to an increase in the public debt. This occurred at a time when external funding was unavailable in the expected amount or on the anticipated terms. Moreover, domestic resources were limited in a country having only recently emerged from a lengthy war. The periods of political instability, both domestic and regional, and the two wars in particular which Israel launched against Lebanon in July 1993 and April 1996, were an enormous obstacle to growth and delayed attainment of the averages as forecast.

32.Nevertheless, the Government’s economic programme achieved considerable successes: growth rates averaged 6.5%, foreign currency exchange rates stabilized, inflation rates fell from over 120% per year to single figures, interest rates gradually dropped, the Bank of Lebanon accumulated a large total of foreign currency reserves and so on.

33.From 1992 onwards, consecutive Governments therefore continued to regard the budget deficit and the resulting increase in the public debt as the main challenge to the success of their project. As a result, they constantly endeavoured to tighten budgets in order to curb inefficient spending and increase the resources in the public purse. Owing to various external and internal factors, however, these efforts were not always fruitful.

Selected economic indicators, 1992-1998

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

Nominal GDP growth (millions of dollars)

5 540

7 537

9 110

11 122

12 996

14 957

-

GDP growth (per cent)

4.5

7.0

8.0

6.5

4.0

4.0

-

Actual budget deficit (per cent)

48.7

38.5

56.9

48.2

51.1

59.0

41.9 (est.)

Ratio of deficit to GNP

11.4

8.9

19.4

15.7

18.8

23.5

-

Balance of payments (millions of dollars)

54

1 169

1 131

256

786

420

-

Bank of Lebanon assets (millions of dollars)

1 448

2 220

3 840

4 487

5 886

5 932

-

Rate of inflation (per cent)

120

29.1

8.0

10.6

8.9

7.8

-

End-of-period exchange rate

1 838

1 711

1 648

1 596

1 552

1 527

-

Net public debt (billions of Lebanese pounds)

4 383

5 138

8 127

11 399

16 266

22 006

-

Debt servicing to total spending

32.3

26.0

28.6

32.0

36.7

36.9

40.4 (est.)

est = estimated

Source: 1998 budget outline

(The unshaded cells show positive indicators and successes, whereas the shaded cells show negative indicators and difficulties which impeded attainment of the objectives.)

34.The relevance of this analysis to the subject matter of this report is that the social sectors are adversely affected by the fall in resources and the priorities for their allocation. It is also apparent from the above discussion that most of the successes are concentrated in the field of financial and monetary stability and inflation control. Inflation control in particular has a direct and positive impact on improving living standards by protecting the value of the national currency. Furthermore, the successive Governments attempted to avoid overloading the public sectors with the burden of austerity and public debt servicing. In this respect, it is useful to analyse overall public spending during the years 1993-1998, including the external loans used during the last five years. After calculating the percentage share of public debt servicing to be carried by each expenditure item, the breakdown is as follows:

-16% on servicing the debt balance accumulated since prior to 1993 and up to 1997;

-51% on social, educational, health and security spending, including salaries, wages and bonuses for workers and retirees in public sector departments and institutions, as well as increases in those items;

-26% on investment spending;

-7% on running daily administration activities.

35.In such a classification, the items included under social spending (workers’ salaries and wages) are considerably expanded, thus explaining its excessive share (51%). (Subsequent parts of this report will be devoted to illustrating some of the features of public spending through the annual budgets.) Apart from that, the national surveys and studies carried out in recent years have made it possible to arrive at a general classification of social problems and their extent. Several of the indicators illustrative of social circumstances in the sectors specializing in child health and nutrition, education, living standards and so on will be discussed. These indicators not only show the substantial progress achieved in a number of vital areas, but also reveal any weaknesses, inadequacies and disparities. This section therefore briefly points to some worrying social indicators which make up the essential features of children’s lives and their development. The main problem, which also creates the biggest impact, is that the income level in Lebanese households is still generally low in comparison with the cost of living. As such, it constitutes the major pressure on children’s living conditions.

36.Based on the findings of a study of household living conditions in Lebanon in 1997, the problem of low income affects the majority of Lebanese households in varying ways. Approximately 31% of households, for instance, are obliged to incur debts in order to meet their essential needs, while no more than 11% of all households have any savings potential. Net unemployment rates (excluding hidden unemployment, which is widespread in Lebanon) are high among the group made up of young persons (the 15-20 age group), standing at an estimated 28.6%. Most households also fall within the low-income category. There are, however, significant variations between the different areas of the country in the case of this indicator and all other social (and economic) indicators.

Breakdown of households in Lebanon by monthly income group and governorate

(percentage)

Income group (Lebanese pounds)

Lebanon

Beirut

Beirut suburbs

Mount Lebanon, excluding suburbs

North

South

Nabatiyah

Bekaa

Below 300

5.8

4.1

2.8

3.6

8.5

10.4

7

7.5

300-500

13

10.3

9.6

7.8

17

22.8

14.5

13

500-800

21

15.9

21.5

15.5

23.3

24.5

25.4

22.4

800-1 200

21.1

18.9

22.4

19.3

21.5

18

24

24.1

1 200-1 600

13.4

14.7

15.2

14.2

11.5

10

13.4

13.3

1 600-2 400

12.1

14.9

12.2

16.2

10.6

6.8

9.7

11.9

2 400-3 200

5.9

7.3

7.2

9.9

3.8

3.4

3.6

3.9

3 200-5 000

4.3

6.3

5

8.2

2.1

2

1.6

2.6

5 000 +

3.1

6.8

3.8

5

1.5

1.6

0.6

1.3

Unspecified

0.3

0.8

0.3

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.2

-

Total

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

Source: Household living conditions in 1997.

37.Irrespective of whether it is achieved to satisfactory or high levels, economic growth does not always automatically lead to the furtherance of human development. In the case of Lebanon, even when high growth rates are achieved, a relatively long period of time is necessary before any positive effect on living conditions is satisfactorily felt, whereas living and social pressures worsen at a more rapid pace. This situation demands immediate and rapid treatment at various levels. Household living conditions and the status of children, the most vulnerable group in society, are organically linked to such treatment.

1.2.3Public debt and the environmental question

38.Commitments 9 and 10 of the 10-point programme contained in the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children state the need to protect the current and future interests of children through protection of the environment, at all levels, so that children can enjoy a safer and healthier future. They also indicate the need to attack poverty, including “measures for debt relief”. The growth of the public debt and the degradation of environmental conditions are two factors which have an impact on the creation of future living and work conditions, the implication being that the effects of decisions taken today will control the lives of the coming generations, or in other words, the children and youngsters of the present generation. Consequently, respect for the principle of taking into account the best interests of children and their right to future development suggests the need to devote greater attention to pursuing the course of sustainable and worthwhile development. In Lebanon's circumstances, the question is also related to the issues of the growing public debt and the deteriorating environmental conditions.

(a)Public debt

39.In order to achieve economic growth, particularly in the circumstances of today’s world, it is undeniably necessary to resort to various sources for the required financial resources, among them borrowing from the international or domestic markets. The problem does not lie in the borrowing itself, or even in the fact that the borrowing terms are constantly shifting, but rather in the inability of the borrowing State to control its debt to the point where it gradually manages to alleviate its debt burden and liberate itself from debt on the strength of the dynamic growth of its economy. In the event that a specific country is unable to satisfy these conditions or is so over-reliant on borrowing to finance reconstruction or growth activities as to exceed the country's economic capability, the overall debt will increase at an uncontrollable pace, meaning that the next generations, or in other words, the children of today, will inherit burdens which they may be incapable of discharging.

40.In Lebanon, the war (1975-1990) was an enormous burden which the current generation inherited from the previous one, causing huge costs to be generated in repairing the devastation and restoring the country to face the present challenges. One aspect of this burden was manifested in the fact that the public debt multiplied by about 4.6 times during the period 1993-1998, leaping from $2.9 billion to $15.1 billion.

41.The seriousness of this situation is mitigated by two issues. The first is that the absolute value of the net public debt (external and domestic combined) continues to approximate the value of the GDP. The second is that the share of the external debt (which creates more pressure and is more significant) does not exceed 16.4% of the total. On the other hand, however, the key hidden danger in the rapid growth of the public debt, the shift in apportionments and the importance of their components should be pointed out, the implication being that, if current trends continue, the next generation will face an enormous problem in this sphere.

42.The immediate adverse impact on the status of children lies in the fact that debt servicing constitutes a permanent burden on the general budget. During the period 1993-1998, for instance, it amounted to nearly 40% of the budget expenses, which indicates that the social and economic sectors are deprived of vital resources for development. These dangers are obvious to the Government, as well as to economic organizations and civil society, and constantly provoke discussion in the constitutional decision-making bodies. However, there are difficulties which hinder both attainment of the desired results with the necessary speed and attainment of the required rates of economic growth. The main cause of these difficulties is the regional instability and Lebanon’s continuing exposure to Israeli attacks, the results of which are no different to the results of wars such as those of July 1993 and April 1996, creating as they do enormous losses and suspending or delaying the development process.

Growth of the public debt between 1993 and 1998

(billions of Lebanese pounds)

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

Public debt servicing as a budget percentage *

45.4

33.8

40.5

40.3

42

43.7**

External debt (millions of dollars)

327.5

771.8

1 304.6

1 856

2 375

2 482

Net external debt (billions of dollars)

2.9

4.8

7.1

10.5

14.4

15.1

Growth of the public debt (1993 = 100)

100

159.3

227.7

325.2

440.6

458.6

Source:Bank of Lebanon, reports of 1996-1998.

* Source:General budgets of 1993-1998.

** Source:Estimated burden in 1998 in accordance with the draft budget for 1998.

Growth of the public debt (1993 = 100)

(b)The degradation of environmental conditions

43.The degradation of environmental conditions is a fundamental stress on the status of children at the present time and will continue to be so in the future. In regard to the present, particular reference should be made to all matters relating to the provision of an environment that is conducive to the health and development of children (clean water, sanitation and a healthy environment in the home and at school). These aspects will be discussed in the ensuing sections of this report. The future effects involve a number of disturbing phenomena at the national level, in particular the human and natural destruction of the natural environment, pollution of the urban environment, unplanned urban growth and so on. These are the ingredients which make up the picture of the natural and urban environment which today's children will inhabit in the future.

44.In regard to the degradation of the natural environment, the situation of agriculture is continuously in decline, thus creating pressure on the availability of locally produced natural foodstuffs and on living conditions in rural areas in general, which encourages exodus to the towns. In addition, the hundreds of fires that break out each year in the wooded areas of Lebanon constitute a huge environmental loss, the adverse effects of which will be suffered by the next generations. As for the urban environment, the first point to take on board is the fact that it is inhabited by 80% of the population, 50% of whom alone live in Beirut, meaning countless problems in connection with population density, overcrowded housing, traffic and so on.

45.In this regard, one of the major problems is the heavy air pollution in towns, particularly Beirut, owing to the large number of cars and the presence of various industries and power-generating stations. In addition, towns and town suburbs have grown haphazardly as a result of poor urban planning. Accordingly, there is no synchronization between the expansion of the suburbs in particular and provision of the basic infrastructural requirements. The effect of random urban expansion, which assumed significant proportions during the war period when government planning and control was out of the question, was that towns came to consist of nothing other than housing complexes and blocks of cement, with no public spaces and in particular no children’s parks or playgrounds and no cultural or leisure centres for youngsters and adolescents. As a result, towns lose their spirit and a one-dimensional environment is created that is insufficient to provide the right upbringing for children, adolescents and youths. As for tackling these matters, they have not yet been given the attention which they deserve. On the contrary, the expansion of the overall private property sector is governed by the same pattern of behaviour, apart from a very few exceptions where planning by the Government (such as in the centre of Beirut) or by municipalities which adopt initiatives in that direction has an impact. The effect of such measures on the overall trend, however, remains extremely limited and is no more than a very general commitment to certain town planning principles, without any true effort being made to respond to the needs of children in the urban and rural environments from the perspective of achieving some degree of integrity and continuity.

1.2.4Armed conflicts and their effects on children

46.Lebanon spent many long years in the throes of a war which lasted from 1975 to 1990, representing the most serious event in its modern history. The cost of the human and social losses sustained by Lebanese society as a result is inestimable. The Lebanese people in general have paid the price, but the effects on the young generations and children are more serious and long-term. To cite just a few of the countless examples, the schools, human capabilities, equipment and curricula in the education sector, particularly the State education sector, suffered extremely heavy losses, leading to a significant deterioration in the performance of the educational system. In other words, pupils in the age groups included under the definition of the child (under 18 years) are thus denied one of their basic rights, namely the right to a good education which prepares them for fulfilment of their social and productive roles. The same applies to the deterioration in the health services provided by the public sector, the degradation of the environment, the loss of job opportunities, the family disintegration resulting from displacement and problems of social integration, not to mention the loss or injury of one or more family members during the war, whether a child or a member of the child’s family or one of his relatives.

47.The effects of this difficult stage will be long-lasting, although some of their immediate manifestations remain unresolved to this moment. Two issues in particular can be mentioned. The first is the phenomenon of displacement, which affected about one-third of Lebanon's inhabitants during the war years. This situation has not yet been fully resolved, as there are thousands of families who are still unable to return to their true homes and places of work. The second issue is the ongoing Israeli occupation of some 1,000 square kilometres of Lebanese territory in the south and the western Bekaa, representing about 10% of the area of Lebanon. This occupation is supplemented by almost daily attacks, as a result of which several of the villages situated along the permanently occupied strip are kept in a constant state of war. In addition are the attacks beyond these villages and the wars launched against Lebanon, such as those of July 1993 and April 1996, which were interjected by the appalling Qana massacre.

48.The economic impact of this situation has already been mentioned. The social and psychological impact, however, is more significant still, particularly in the case of a considerable number of children and youngsters who, because of it, are more or less denied their childhood and youth. A separate chapter of this report will be devoted to the discussion of this subject.

CHAPTER II

DEFINITION OF THE CHILD

2.1Definition of the child

49.Article 1 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child defines the child as follows:

“For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.”

50.This general definition raises more than one issue relating to the particular nature of the child which causes it to be the subject of a special convention and to the criteria used to define the child on the basis of age, recognized legislation or psychological, social and other criteria. The definition contained in article 1 does not cover these aspects, which, in a sense, is only natural. It is consequently necessary, however, to infer such aspects from the provisions of the Convention as a whole and from the overall de facto and conceptual framework within which the articles of the Convention were formulated.

2.2The child as the subject of a special convention

51.The elaboration of a special convention on the rights of the child was never a matter that was taken for granted. One view was that the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1959, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were adequate to guarantee the rights of the child worldwide. The advocates of this view justified their position by pointing out the danger of making a distinction between children and other human beings, as it could signal a cue for dividing up human rights and diminishing the universality of their application.

52.The contrasting view was based on the following conceptual and practical justifications:

(a)On a daily basis, children suffer violence, discrimination, military aggression, occupation, homelessness, displacement, poverty, economic crises, debt crises, disease, illiteracy and so on. They endure these problems together with the rest of the human race and very frequently much more so by virtue of the fact that they are children. Immediate practical measures should therefore be taken to protect children from such situations.

(b)Singling out children does not dilute the concept of human rights, as children’s rights are regarded as human rights and as a further complement to and development of human rights in general. They are also a special area of those rights and do not conflict with or replace them.

(c)The Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1959 is not binding on Member States. In view of the need to adopt effective measures aimed at addressing the problems from which children suffer, it is essential to elaborate texts that are binding on the States signing them, which thus confirms the need to elaborate a special convention on children that fulfils this capacity.

53.The justifications of the call for a special convention on the rights of the child are based on three needs: the rights granted to children should strengthen or duplicate the rights granted to any human being, irrespective of age; the criteria applied to human beings in general should be enhanced in the case of children; and issues relating or confined to children should be addressed.

54.Ultimately, the latter point of view gained favour and was articulated in the adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations of the Convention of the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1989.

2.3Protection of and responsibility for the child

55.Based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the preamble of the Convention on the Rights of the Child stresses that children are entitled to special care and assistance and that “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.” Paragraph 2 of the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children also proclaims that “the children of the world are innocent, vulnerable and dependent. They are also curious, active and full of hope. Their time should be one of joy and peace, of playing, learning and growing. Their future should be shaped in harmony and cooperation. Their lives should mature, as they broaden their perspectives and gain new experiences.” Any person consulting an international (or national) text on children will find similar descriptions, all of which emphasize that the child is a vulnerable being because of his physical, mental and emotional immaturity and that he is dependant on others and should have care and protection.

56.This emphasis on the protection of children is the basis of the criticism levelled at the concept and substance of child rights to the effect that they are essentially parental rights and provide too much protection, although protection is only one of the components which fundamentally constitute the rights of the child. Protection is an important feature of human rights provisions in general and is also as important for particular groups such as ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities as it is for children.

57.The concept of the child in the Convention is based on achieving a balance between the child as a human being who must be protected on the one hand and as a person who is competent to assume responsibility and enjoy some of the rights afforded to adults on the other. This balance is articulated by determining the age thresholds for the progressive acquisition of some of those rights in association with the acquisition of new skills, knowledge and aptitudes. In general, protection measures are at their maximum in early childhood, when the child has no responsibility whatsoever. As he grows older, the special protection measures are reduced and his responsibility for his actions is proportionately increased until he attains the age of majority (18 years), when the special protection measures are removed and he is held fully responsible for his actions and enjoys the full exercise of his rights.

Chart illustrating the progressive change in the protection and responsibility of the child

between the time of birth and attainment of the age of majority

2.4Children and minors

58.Notwithstanding the above explanations, the difficulties posed by the definition of the child as contained in article 1 of the Convention cannot be ignored, as the child is defined in comparison to his adult “antithesis” based on the criterion of the age of majority, which, according to the Convention, is 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier. Consequently, the definition of the child to some extent corresponds to that of a minor, as also indicated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (article 24) in relation to the protection of children as required by their status as minors.

59.The demarcation of the age boundaries separating childhood and adulthood is not without significance, as the choice of age is linked to the level of development of human civilization, as well as to the recognized patterns of social organization, social roles and the requirements of those roles. The human being is consequently unable to perform his social and economic role before he is fully prepared for it or before he is fully grown, both physically and mentally. The age of majority is determined on the basis of the average modern-day educational requirements for admission to the employment market, the prevailing ideas of social roles and the physical, mental and moral indicators. The demarcation of 18 years of age is not only biological; it is also a complex social demarcation, as well as a shifting historical demarcation which, in international and national law, is expressed by means of age. This demarcation presupposes condensation of all the complex elements already mentioned.

60.This scrutiny is necessary in order to show that the demarcation of any age threshold for the acquisition of a right or the denial of a specific type of protection is an informal one. As such, it is bound to be criticized in terms of the extent to which it is consistent with the social and theoretical basis of the concept of child rights, even if it acquires legality by being duly promulgated in the form of a legislative enactment.

61.Such is the approach essentially adopted by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, although the definition contained in article 1 veers more towards the juristic approach in that it regards the child as a minor from the legal point of view, whereas a definition comprising the other elements which distinguish the child as an individual and social human being could have been used.

62.This “legal” definition, if that is the correct term, is central to the other problem in connection with the definition, namely that of increasing the age range to which the definition of the child can be applied to between the time of birth (and sometimes earlier) to the age of 18 years. The reason for regarding those 18 years as one stage is that they all share the same characteristic of being below the legal age of majority. All members of this age group are therefore minors. In other words, they enjoy no legal competence or only a lesser degree of legal competence. From the biological, psychological, educational and social points of view, however, there are often considerable essential differences between children according to age subgroups corresponding to the stages of growth and development, as well as to aptitudes and duties. On the basis of all these approaches, no one under the age of 18 years can be grouped together under one definition. On the contrary, even linguistically, adolescents and youngsters flatly reject the notion that they should be referred to as children. A definition such as the one used, which makes no distinction between the various steps in age, fails to take into account the views of those concerned, who would adopt an opposite view if they were to have any say in the matter. The question of subdividing the stages of childhood will highlighted in a practical manner when dealing with the secondary issues in connection with determining the age thresholds in the different areas.

2.5Children from a psychological and educational perspective

63.Four of the many various avenues to the study of children are the biological, the behavioural, the cognitive and the psycho-social avenues. Each of these avenues has its own theoretical tools and special fields of interest and focus. This wide variety of avenues could be regarded as a pretext for the failure to include the psycho-social dimension in the definition of childhood on the ground of striving for an objectivity that is presumed to exist in the juristic definitions. Psychology, educational science and sociology, however, have sufficiently established their positions and continue to regard variety as an essential component of the integrity of knowledge and not as a source of conflict and confusion.

64.Concerning the definition of childhood and the stages of childhood, we refer in particular to the division proposed by the Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget, who divided childhood into four stages, as follows:

(a)The first and second years of a child’s life, which constitute the sensorimotor stage;

(b)The years from two to seven, which represent the pre-operational stage of development (or the stage of intuitive thinking);

(c)The years from eight to 12, which represent the concrete operational stage (or the stage of empirical thinking);

(d)The years from 13 onwards, during which time the child enters the formal operational stage (or the stage of abstract thinking).

65.The approach employed by Piaget focused on the child’s cognitive development, whereas other approaches monitored the biological, psychological or emotional aspects of development. Whatever the approach, however, the chronological division is somewhat similar, although there are individual (and sometimes group) differences in regard to the transition from one stage to another, which makes it impossible to pinpoint the moment of transition with any accuracy.

66.Based on information gathered from more than one source, the stage between the ages of 0 and 18 can be divided into the following substages:

The cradle stage: From 0-2 years;

The early childhood stage: From 2-6 years;

The middle childhood stage: From 6-9 years;

The late childhood stage: From 9-12 years;

The early adolescent stage: From 12-15 years;

The mid-adolescent stage: From 15-18 years.

67.During these stages, the environment surrounding and influencing the child grows from one that is virtually confined to the home during the first few years into one that includes school and friends of the same sex, followed by children of the opposite sex and interaction with the wider social environment and its influences. The child also gradually moves on from the stage where he uses his five senses to develop his knowledge of the world to the stage where he increasingly uses his mental aptitudes skills to do so. At the same time, he acquires physical, emotional and moral maturity and becomes aware of the social roles and behaviour expected of him. He also becomes aware of his individuality, which expresses his unique personality as formed within the cocoon of the prevailing cultural and social order. Against that background, it is difficult to imagine that equal or even similar protective measures, rights and responsibilities should exist without any distinction being made between the different stages.

2.6The beginning and end of childhood in general law

68.The Convention on the Rights of the Child explicitly defines the age of majority marking the end of the childhood stage as attainment of the age of 18. It does not, however, explicitly define the starting point of childhood. This deliberate omission is intended to avoid any conflict which might cause Member States to make reservations to the Convention or refrain from signing it.

69.Here, the controversy revolves around the matter of determining the moment when a child is formed. Is it at the moment of impregnation of the mother’s womb? Or is it at the moment of birth? Or at some stage between the two? In the first instance, the right to abortion would be fully refuted, as it would undermine the right to life of the “child”, a right which would apply to the foetus from the moment of impregnation.

70.It is for these reasons that the text is flexible and open, leaving it to national legislation to define the moment when the rights of the child commence, thus ensuring that the social and cultural context is taken into account. The preambles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Declaration on the Rights of the Child, however, both provide for “appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”. Nevertheless, the interpretation given to this provision does not imply the adoption of a final position on the question of the right to abortion and family planning, a matter which, as already indicated, is left to the legislation in each country.

71.In the case of Lebanon, there are no separate legal texts which define childhood. The most universal legislative enactments which lend themselves to encompassing a definition of the child are the Duties and Contracts Act (the Civil Code) and the Penal Code.

72.Articles 215-218 of the Duties and Contracts Act define the child indirectly by determining the age at which a person is competent to be bound by contractual engagements, namely 18 years. In other words, it determines the full legal age at which the stage of childhood ends, which corresponds to the age specified in article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and is consistent with the approach of treating a child as a minor.

73.This definition, however, is not absolute, as the aforesaid articles of the Duties and Contracts Act also make a distinction between a minor who is capable of discretion and one who is not, but fail to specify the age at which such distinction occurs. Any arrangements entered into by a minor who is incapable of discretion are deemed null and void. Nevertheless, any arrangements entered into by a minor who is capable of discretion may also be null and void unless he has leave from the court to enter into such arrangements in the pursuit of commerce or industry, in which case he is treated as a person having attained the age of majority in his field of business to the extent required by that business.

74.In contrast to this designated reduction in the age of majority, the laws on parliamentary, municipal and free elections in Lebanon allow for an age of majority which is higher than the ceiling indicated in the Convention. Hence, in accordance with these laws, no Lebanese citizen may exercise his right to vote in public elections unless he has attained the age of 21 years. In other words, the stage of childhood is extended in regard to acquisition of the fundamental right of voting. Lebanese legislation therefore makes a distinction between the general age of civil majority, which is 18 years, and the age of political majority, which is 21 years. As such, it is inconsistent with the text and substance of the Convention.

75.In the same way, there is no specific legal text which immediately determines the moment when childhood begins. In Lebanese law, however, abortion is regarded as a punishable crime pursuant to articles 541-545 of the Penal Code and no doctor may perform an abortion on a pregnant woman other than for medical reasons and within strict conditions. This legal text reflects the society's position on this subject, which coincides with the general position of the religious and confessional authorities in Lebanon, all of which generally prohibit abortion. The prevailing social and cultural traditions also tend towards that same position. Owing to the complexities of modern-day life and different cultural influences at play, however, the application of this text is less rigorous in practice, which is particularly true of recent years (during and after the war). Generally speaking, Lebanon can be said to have adopted the principle whereby the foetus is included under the protection stipulated in the Convention. In other words, the prenatal stage is deemed to be included within the definition of childhood and its every aspect, in particular the right to survival, by virtue of the ban on abortion.

Brief comparison between the Convention, the law and practice in Lebanon

in regard to the definition of the child

Definition of the child

The Convention

Lebanon

Reference

Beginning of the childhood stage

Unspecified

From the moment of impregnation

Ban on abortion (prevailing culture and articles 541-545 of the Penal Code).

Some flexibility in practice

End of the childhood stage

18 years

18 years as a general demarcation

21 years for exercise of the right to vote

Distinction of a minor capable of discretion and his capacity to enter into commitments with leave from the court

Articles 215-218 of the Duties and Contracts Act

Electoral laws

Age unspecified in the civil text, although, according to custom, it is about 15 years of age

2.7The Penal Code

76.Under the Penal Code, the age of majority is 18 years. On attaining that age, any perpetrator of a crime is fully responsible for his actions and benefits from none of the special protective treatment afforded to minors. In regard to the assumption of criminal responsibility, however, the Penal Code clearly makes a fine distinction between four stages (which also correspond to four standards of measures for the protection and care of children/minors). The distinction consists in the penalties imposed on minors and in those imposed on perpetrators of crime. These stages are as shown in the following table:

Stages of criminal responsibility and protection in accordance with the Lebanese Penal Code

Age

Criminal responsibility

Penalties for this age group

Penalties for those offending against a member of this age group

0-6 years

None

No measures imposed

Severe penalties

7-11 years

Criminal responsibility

Protection measures or arrangements may be imposed

Less severe penalties than the previous stage

12-14 years

Greater criminal responsibility

Protection measures,arrangements, reform measures or disciplinary measures may be imposed, regardless of the type of crime

Less severe penalties than the previous stage

15-17 years

Greater criminal responsibility

Reduced penalties, including imprisonment away from adults

Less severe penalties than the previous stage

77.This division into stages comprises the degree of criminal responsibility and protection measures, which run in reverse order, and provides an example not yet mentioned of the balance required between the two elements of protection and responsibility when dealing with children. In this sense, the Lebanese text is consistent with the spirit of the Convention, in which no specific stages are defined.

78.The Lebanese legislative text is also consistent with the Convention in regard to the impermissibility of imposing on children under 18 years of age the sentences of capital punishment or imprisonment for life with hard labour and no possibility of release. However, some jurists and bodies active in the field of child rights believe that the penalties for the perpetrators of crimes against children should be more severe than they are at the moment. This issue is beyond the scope of the definition of the child and will be dealt with in subsequent parts of the report.

2.8Personal status laws

79.The task of discussing the status of children under the personal status laws and making comparisons with the Convention on the Rights of the Child is especially difficult, given the large number of such laws in Lebanon. No unified personal standard law was ever elaborated by the Lebanese legislature, which instead charged the confessional groups with the task of regulating matters of personal status, allowing them to draft legislative acts and regulate their own particular justice systems in accordance with their beliefs. Consequently, 15 different justice systems have been formulated by the confessional groups, whose positions overlap on some issues and differ on others. It is therefore difficult to talk about a standard criterion in regard to the rights of the child. However, the fact that the Lebanese share a common cultural, social and historical background has the effect of producing general criteria of a socially acceptable nature that form a kind of tradition or prevailing custom which means that the different positions are not too far apart, despite the absence of any explicit legal text.

80.Taking their cue from the Civil Code, the personal status laws regard the age of majority as 18 years and make a distinction between a minor who is capable of discretion and one who is not, setting the age of 15 years as the point of distinction.These laws deal with subjects of a particular nature, such as the rules on marriage, divorce, inheritance, filiation, custody, guardianship and so on. It is therefore essential to determine specific age thresholds concerning the competence to undertake such matters.

81.In regard to the conditions for marriage, puberty or the age at which men and women acquire the physiological capacity for reproduction is regarded as an essential condition. The actual age of puberty, however, cannot be determined in advance, as it varies in accordance with individual characteristics. Most legislative acts therefore deliberately specify a technical age for puberty which is higher than the actual age. The authorities are then permitted to licence marriage before that age in exceptional cases. The age at which marriage may be licensed is determined by a number of considerations, including physiological capacity and the general social customs and traditions of the two spouses and their families, including their educational attainment.

82.On this subject, the position adopted in the personal status laws of the different confessional groups can be summarized as follows:

Age of puberty and age at which marriage may be licensed in accordance with

the laws of the different confessional groups

Confessional group

Specified age of puberty

Age at which marriage may be licensed

Licensing authority

Articles in the law of the confessional group

Male

Female

Male

Female

Sunni

18

17

17

9

Judge

4, 5, 6

Shiite

True puberty

True puberty

15

9

Judge

7, 8

Druze

18

17

16

15

Judge of the confessional group or shaykh

1, 2, 3

Catholic groups

16

14

14

12

The Patriarch

57, 62

Greek Orthodox

18

18

17

15

Head of the diocese

5, 18

East Syrian Orthodox

18

14

-

-

-

4

Evangelical

18

16

True puberty

True puberty

Religious court

22, 2

Jewish

18

12,5

13

12,5unspecified

Guardianship or consent of the father and agreement of the girl’s mother or a sister if she is an orphan

43, 33, 46

83.In all the personal status laws, mutual consent is deemed to be an essential condition for the validity of a marriage. This condition, however, is subject to two restrictions, particularly in the case of young girls. The first is a pragmatic social restriction, as a significant proportion of marriages are still contracted in accordance with the traditional method whereby no real substance is given to the opinion of the girl or even to that of the young man in some cases, since the responsibility for arranging the marriage and creating an atmosphere conducive to its conclusion is assumed by the family. The second restriction is that the family must consent to the marriage of a minor. In this connection, there are various levels, which can be summarized as follows:

-A cleric who marries a minor (under 18 years of age) without the agreement of his guardian is committing a crime punishable under article 483 of the Penal Code;

-Family consent is desirable in all cases, whatever the age of the marriage suitor, although this does not imply that parents have the right to force their children into marriage;

-Family consent is generally required until the age of legal majority is attained, or, in the case of the Greek Orthodox church, until the age of 21;

-In most of the laws, the marriage of a minor requires permission from the competent cleric and the guardian, although in the event of the latter's arbitrary exercise of his right, the cleric may dispense with requirement for his consent (in accordance with the Sunna);

-In the Greek Orthodox sect, the consent of the family dispenses with the need for the consent of the minor in the marriage contract;

-In general, some distinction is made between males and females in regard to the requirement for consent and the minimum age of marriage;

-The guardian may give a minor in marriage without his or her consent (Greek Orthodox and Shiite).

84.It should be pointed out that there are significant variations in the application of these laws depending on the social background of the spouses in the sense that any flexibility or coercion in evidence are as much the product of prevailing customs as they are based on a legal text, and sometimes more so.

85.In practice, the average age for a first marriage, for example, is 20.5 years for females and 26 years for males (1996), which is much higher than the minimum age stipulated in the personal status laws, thus highlighting the importance of social, economic and cultural factors in determining behaviour and attitudes.

86.A final point concerns the matter of custodial care, the award of which is linked to the approach adopted in the personal status laws towards the division of childhood into substages. Accordingly, custodial care generally coincides with the early stage of childhood, during which protection measures and regard for the best interests of the child are typically at their maximum. The mother generally has custodial care during that stage (exceptions to which are set out in the table below), at the end of which it is transferred to whomsoever has the right of guardianship over the child.

87.The positions adopted towards this stage by the laws of the different confessional groups can be summarized as follows:

Custodial care in the laws of the Lebanese confessional groups

Confessional group

Custodial care of males

Custodial care of females

Comments

Sunni and Druze

7

9

-

Greek Orthodox

7

9

-

Shiite

2

7

Provided that the mother is married

Evangelical

7

7

-

Jewish

6

Until marriage

-

Catholic

Unspecified

Unspecified

The religious courts have the right of discretion. A husband who is not at fault usually has right of custody in the event of separation.

Source: Al-Bilani, The Personal Status Laws in Lebanon, op. cit.

88.Concentrating further on the relationship of the personal status laws to the definition of the child and the substages of childhood, the above discussion can be summarized and a comparison made with the Convention on the Rights of the Child as follows:

Comparison between the articles of the Convention and the personal status laws

in regard to the definition of the child

Convention

Lebanon

Comments

Age of majority

18

18

Age of a minor capable of discretion

15

Unspecified

Age of puberty

Unspecified

12.5-18 for females;16-18 for males;or the onset of puberty

Minimum age of marriage

Implicitly the age of majority

9-12 for females13-17 for males

In practice, 20.5 years for females and 26 years for males

Age of consent to marriage

Compulsory in all cases

Essential for the validity of a marriage

Customs may create a climate in which choice is suppressed, particularly in the case of young girls

Age requiring consent of the family to marriage

Unspecified, provided that there is no conflict with the views and interests of the child

Essential for a minor, as is the authorization of a cleric

In some cases, the wishes of the family are sufficient without the minor’s consent

Custodial care

Unspecified

Varies in accordance with the confessional group, but commonly continues to the age of 7 years for males and 9 years for females

89.There are noticeable points of inconsistency with the Convention in matters relating to the age of marriage and, in particular, to the distinction between males and females. A further inconsistency relates to the consent of a minor as a prerequisite for the validity of a marriage. In some special cases, such consent replaces the consent of the guardian.

2.9The Labour Act

90.In regard to the definition of the child and the minimum age for admission to the employment market, the Labour Act makes a distinction between two stages in the case of minors. In the first stage, a child may not be employed at all. In accordance with the most recent amendment of the Labour Act, this stage continues to the age of 13 years. In the second stage, consisting of the 14-17 age group, children may be employed under special conditions relating to matters such as working hours and conditions, type of work and so on.

91.In addition, there is discrimination against children and young persons in the wages which they receive compared to the older age groups. It is, in fact, a legal discrimination, as the Minimum Wages Act No. 36/67 excludes from its provisions any person who has not attained 20 full years of age. (The subject of child labour will be discussed in detail in a subsequent chapter.)

2.10The definition of the child in education

92.Only two points will be discussed here. The first is the minimum age for compulsory education and the second is the stages of education which correspond to a child’s stages of development, although this area will be explored in detail in the chapter devoted to the right to education.

93.In regard to compulsory education, Act No. 686, which was promulgated on 16 March 1998, includes an article amending a previous provision. The new provision now reads as follows:

“Education shall be free and compulsory in the initial primary stage and is a right of every Lebanese person of primary school age. The conditions for such free compulsory education shall be determined by a decree adopted by the Council of Ministers, as shall its regulation.”

94.As this provision is clearly new, no regulatory decrees have yet been promulgated. It is nevertheless a first step in the right direction. The prescribed age for the primary stage ends at 11 years in accordance with the system now in force and will be increased to 12 years under the new structure. Practical steps for the progressive application of this new structure began in the academic year 1998/99. It should be pointed out that this new structure uses the designation of basic education (lasting nine years), corresponding to the 7-15 age group, which is divided into a first stage (six years, corresponding to primary education) and a second stage (three years corresponding to intermediate education).

95.As already mentioned, the stages of education correspond to the different stages of child development, which, in accordance with both the old and new structures, are as follows:

Educational stage

Age group (previous)

Age group (new)

Kindergarten

4-6

4-6

Primary

7-11

7-12

Intermediate

12-15

13-15

Secondary

15-17

15-17

2.11Synopsis of the stages of childhood by different sphere

96.In accordance with Lebanese legislation, the term "childhood" generally applies to minors and, as in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is limited to the age below 18 years. There are noticeable distinctions between: the ages of minors who are capable of discretion and those who are not (15 years); the ages at which employment may be authorized subject to conditions and at which it is completely prohibited (13 years); the ages of no absolute criminal responsibility (up to 7 years) and of progressive criminal responsibility (12 and 15 years); and the ages at which education is divided into the stages of pre-primary (up to 6 years), primary (11 or 12 years), intermediate (15 years) and secondary (16 to 18 years). These divisions are close to one another and to the stages into which childhood is divided by psychologists, education experts and sociologists, and can be summed up in the following table:

CRC/C/70/Add.8page 28

Summary of the position of the various Lebanese legislative enactments in connection with the definition of childhood and its substages

Age

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

General law

Minor; incompetent to be contractually bound

Minor capable of discretion

Adult; not entitled to vote

Penal Code

No criminal responsibility; full protection

Partial responsibility; protection or probationary measures

Greater responsibility; protection, probationary, reform and disciplinary measures

Greater responsibility; reduced penalties

Adult; full responsibility

Personal Status

Males

Mother has custodial care

Father, guardian or legal trustee has care

Minor capable of discretion

Adult

Females

Mother has custodial care

Father, guardian or legal trustee has care

Minor capable of discretion

Adult

Labour Act

Employment prohibited by law

May work under special conditions

Adult

Education

Current

Kindergarten

Primary

Intermediate

Secondary

University

New

Kinder-garten

Primary

Intermediate

Secondary

University

Psychology and sociology

Cradle

Early childhood

Middle childhood

Late childhood

Early adolescence

Middle adolescence

Adulthood or late adolescence

CHAPTER III

THE CHILDREN OF LEBANON: ESSENTIAL FACTS

3.1Concerning this chapter

97.This chapter is distinct from the remaining chapters of this report, presenting as it does in condensed form, and without any in-depth analysis, the main statistical information on children in Lebanon (those under 18 years of age). The benefit of this chapter is that it provides information on the size of this population group, its geographical distribution, its breakdown by age and the key features in connection with access to public services, as well as information on the standard of living and the numbers of children suffering from particular difficulties.

98.Needless to say, knowledge of this information is a prerequisite to forming an accurate and objective view of the status and problems of children. It is also a prerequisite to the process of outlining policies and devising inputs aimed at improving their circumstances and protecting their rights. This is essentially the objective of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

3.2Children in Lebanon: numbers, geographical distribution and breakdown by age

99.According to the statistical survey of population and housing, the number of children (aged under 18, or in other words, the 0-17 age group) is estimated at about 1.1 million, constituting some 35.6% of the total resident population. They are distributed throughout the six governorates in proportion to the number of inhabitants.

Diagram showing the breakdown of children (aged under 18) by governorate

(per cent)

100.The high proportion of children (35.6%) indicates the youthfulness of Lebanese society. This proportion, however, varies appreciably according to region and social characteristics. It is at its highest in the governorate of the North, where the composition of the population is younger (41.8% of the population is aged under 18), whereas in Beirut, it stands at only 27.6%. Sharper differences are evident in the provinces in that rural and deprived districts usually comprise a high percentage of children; for instance, the proportion of children stands at 48.2% in Akkar, at 44.5% in Munih and 42.9% in Harmal, all of which are rural districts. It stands at 42.4% in the district of Tyre, which is a mixture of rural and urban, and at 41.1% in the town of Tripoli. By contrast, it stands at 27.6% in the district of Kasrawan and at 17.7% in the district of Matn.

101.The following table includes detailed information by district and governorate from which it is possible to determine the actual numbers and proportions of inhabitants and children. Comparing the percentages contained in the last two columns, it is also possible to identify the governorates and districts in which the share of the total number of children in Lebanon is higher than their share of the total population, thus providing a further illustration of the youthfulness of the population in particular districts or governorates. The table additionally illustrates the share of districts in the total number of children, information which is crucial to the establishment of practical intervention programmes aimed at improving the circumstances of children.

Distribution of inhabitants and children by district and governorate

(numbers and percentages)

District

Number of inhabitants by district

Number of children (aged under 18)

Percentage of children in the district

Share of the district in the total number of children in Lebanon (%)

Share of the district in the total number of inhabitants in Lebanon (%)

Beirut

407 403

112 301

27.6

10.1

13.1

Baabda

371 881

132 372

35.6

11.9

12

Matn

367 150

101 872

27.7

9.2

11.8

Shuf

120 473

39 828

33.1

3.6

3.9

Aley

99 947

36 222

36.2

3.3

3.2

Kasrawan

123 600

24 135

27.6

3.1

4

Jubayï

62 407

19 267

30.9

1.7

2

Governorate of Mount Lebanon

1 145 458

363 696

31.8

32.8

36.8

Munih

96 417

42 880

44.5

3.9

3.1

Tripoli

227 857

94 380

41.4

8.5

7.3

Kurah

47 540

14 690

30.9

1.3

1.5

Zgharta

48 974

17 153

35

1.5

1.6

Batrun

34 817

10 692

30.7

1

1.1

Akkar

198 174

95 526

48.2

8.6

6.4

Bsharri

16 831

5 030

29.9

0.5

0.5

Governorate of the North

670 610

280 351

41.8

25.3

21.6

Saidon

138 348

54 917

39.7

5

4.4

Tyre

130 083

55 205

42.4

5

4.2

Jazzin

14 262

3 510

24

0.3

0.5

Governorate of the South

283 057

113 632

40.1

10.3

9.1

Zahleh

124 336

44 914

36.1

4.1

4

Western Bekaa

55 692

22 416

40.2

2

1.8

Baalbek

157 049

65 255

41.6

5.9

5

Harmal

18 975

16 717

42.9

1.5

1.3

Rashayya

23 839

9 535

40

0.9

0.8

Governorate of Bekaa

379 891

158 837

39.7

14.2

12.9

Nabatiyah

92 363

38 197

40.3

3.4

3

Bint Jubayl

52 710

21 561

40.9

1.9

1.7

Marjayoun

40 879

14 502

35.5

1.3

1.3

Hasbayya

19 460

6 075

31.2

0.5

0.6

Governorate of Nabatiyah

205 412

89 335

38.6

7.2

6.6

Lebanon as a whole

3 111 831

1 108 152

35.6

100

100

Source: Statistical Survey of Population and Housing, 1996.

3.3Breakdown of children by age

102.Chapter II concerning the definition of the child indicated the need to divide the 0-17 age group, which is included within the definition of the child, into subgroups corresponding to the different stages of child development from the cradle through to adolescence and youth. This division continues to be warranted by the varying needs and abilities of the child during each stage. To arrive at divisions which correspond exactly the different divisions is problematic. This section therefore shows the age breakdown of children by three-year age groups from which the best use can be made on a number of counts for the purposes of this report and for the purposes of outlining policies and concrete intervention programmes (inoculation programmes for the under-fives, the provision of primary school places for the 6-11 age group, measures to tackle school drop-outs, vocational guidance for the 12-14 and 15-17 age groups and so on).

103.According to the same source (the 1996 statistical survey of population and housing), the distribution of inhabitants under 18 years of age among the three age groups is virtually equal, ranging from 16.8% to 18.1%, apart from the first age group (the under-threes), which accounts for only 12.8% of the total (thus showing the distinct tendency in recent years for families to have fewer numbers of children).

Breakdown of children (aged under 18) by three-year age groups

(number and percentage)

Age in years

Number

Percentage

0-2

141 815

12.8

3-5

186 440

16.8

6-8

191 289

17.2

9-11

192 693

17.5

12-14

200 506

18.1

15-17

195 406

17.6

Total

1 108 149

100

Source: Statistical Survey of Population and Housing, 1996.

3.4Housing conditions

104.The home is the principal and most important environment in the lives of families and children. This is particularly true in the initial stages of childhood. Access to suitable housing is a main prerequisite for guaranteeing the right of the child to survival and to healthy development in a safe and sound environment. In psychological and educational terms, the impact of housing conditions is significant, since living in overcrowded accommodation increases the likelihood of strain within the family and has immediate stressful implications for the formation of a child's individual character.

105.The findings of the statistical survey on housing and population clearly show that approximately 21% of children live in one- or two-room accommodation, which does not satisfy the minimum requirements needed to bring up a child in comfort. A further 26.1% of children live in three-room accommodation, which is an equally uncomfortable situation. Here, it should be added that impoverished families generally have more children and fewer rooms in less spacious accommodation.

106.As for space, 30.2% of children live in accommodation of under 80 square metres in area and approximately 69% live in accommodation with an average- or large-size area.

Breakdown of children by number of rooms and area of accommodation

Number of rooms in the house

Percentage of children

Area of accommodation

Percentage of children

2 rooms or fewer

20.9

Less than 30 sq m

4.1

3-5 rooms

69.3

31-80 sq m

26.1

6-9 rooms

9.2

81-140 sq m

38.9

10 rooms or more

0.3

141-200 sq m

21.7

Unaffected

0.4

Over 200 sq m

0.4

Unaffected

0.4

Total

100

Total

100

Source: Statistical Survey of Population and Housing, 1996

3.5Access to basic services

107.The Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that all children should have access to basic services as a fundamental right similar to that enjoyed by all citizens. It also provides that they should receive priority in that connection, as their physical health is more greatly affected than that of adults by lack of access to these services. Amenities such as the supply of domestic water, safe drinking water and sanitation in particular suffered tremendous damage during the long years of war. As a result, they are either non-existent or deteriorating in quality on a nationwide scale. The government reconstruction plans have given priority to the restoration of such services, which has tangibly improved access for the majority of the Lebanese people and consequently for the majority of its children.

108.The information provided by the statistical survey shows that the public grid is the main source of drinking water for 70.2% of children, compared with 11.7% who obtain their water from untreated sources (spring water, which is frequently of good quality). One matter which needs further investigation, however, is that of the contamination of water sources, as many cases of digestive illnesses, particularly among children, are reported each year as a result of the contamination of drinking water in more than one region.

Breakdown of children by source of drinking water

Source of drinking water

Percentage

Public grid (non-disinfected)

58.3

Grid (disinfected)

11.9

Spring water

11.7

Bottled water

4.5

Other

13.7

Total

100

Breakdown of children by main source of drinking water

Source: Statistical Survey on Population and Housing, 1996.

109.Some 92.7% of children have access to domestic water from public or private grids and from artesian wells, as opposed to 7.2% of children who live in homes which are unconnected to any water grid.

110.On this score, there is no problem on a nationwide scale. Instead, attention should be focused on the specific areas and pockets where a problem does exist. The number of supply hours and the rationalization of this important natural resource are also issues which should be addressed.

Distribution of children by water grid connection

Water grid connection

Percentage

Public grid

72.3

Public grid and well

6.5

Private grid or well

13.9

Unconnected

7.2

Total

99.9

Source: Statistical Survey of Population and Housing, 1996.

Breakdown of children by water grid connection

111.Finally, approximately 92.3% of children have access to sanitation by two main methods: the public sewage network or cesspits. Direct service access does not therefore pose a problem, although the use of cesspits is relatively high (42.2%) and is virtually the only method available in most rural and urban shanty areas. In this regard, the problem is one of environmental health, as few cesspits are built in accordance with sanitary specifications, thus increasing the risk of waste water seeping into the soil and into underground water sources.

Breakdown of children by access to sanitation

Means of sanitation

Percentage

Public sewage network

54.1

Cesspit

42.2

Open sewage system

1.7

Other

0.6

None

1.4

Total

100

Source: Statistical Survey of Population and

Housing, 1996.

Breakdown of children by means of domestic sanitation

Source: Statistical Survey of Population and Housing, 1996.

112.As for access to domestic sanitation and the quality of such sanitation, the findings of the Lebanese survey of maternal and child health showed the following breakdown:

Breakdown of households by type of domestic sanitation

Type of lavatory

% of households

Lavatory with a flush tank connected to the public sewage network

50.4

Lavatory with a flush tank connected to a cesspit

24.7

Lavatory without a flush tank

20.1

Hole in the ground

3.8

None

1.1

Total

100

Source: Lebanese survey of maternal and child health, 1996.

3.6Children's standard of living

113.Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates as follows:

"States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development."

114.The other articles of the Convention also cover in detail those areas of health, education and public services which help to ensure an adequate standard of living, as well as measures to reduce mortality and improve nutrition. Several of the paragraphs contained in the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and in the Plan of Action adopted by the World Summit for Children stipulate the need to combat poverty and improve the lives of children as one of the main challenges and goals of the Convention and of the international and national efforts already exerted and to be further exerted to this end.

115.The guarantee of an adequate standard of living for children is therefore a basic objective and results from the successful achievement of various secondary objectives in regard to the components of an acceptable standard of living. Several of these components have already been covered separately in previous section, whereas this section attempts to sum up how one of the integral measures of the standard of living in Lebanon is applied.

116.In the first quarter of 1998, the Ministry of Social Affairs, together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Norwegian Institute for Applied Science (FAFO), completed an analytical study of the findings of the statistical survey of population and housing. The study, entitled A map of living conditions in Lebanon, is an attempt to quantify living conditions by constructing a set of indicators aimed at measuring the extent to which basic needs are satisfied (or denied) and the relative lifestyles of the inhabitants and families in groups where different levels of satisfaction are attained.

117.There is no scope here to provide details of the methodology employed (unsatisfied basic needs, or UBN), the essence of which is that a set of comparative indicators can be used to appraise the standard of living (low, average and high) among groups of inhabitants in general and the extent to which their needs are satisfied in four secondary areas, namely housing, water and sanitation, education and income-related indicators. The same methodology was employed in preparing this report, which included the use of thresholds and indicators to calculate the breakdown of the children resident in Lebanon into groups on the basis of the degree to which needs are satisfied in general and in the above-mentioned areas (in other words, categories based on the standard of living). Generally speaking, it can be said that the basic needs of those in the low satisfaction group are correspondingly unsatisfied in accordance with the thresholds and criteria adopted by the study.

118.In accordance with this method, 42.3% of children (aged under 18) can be regarded as deprived on the basis of the thresholds set in the said study. An almost identical number (42.1%) have an average standard of living and 15.6% have a high standard of living.

Breakdown of children (aged under 18) by standard of living

119.Within this overall breakdown, there is an appreciable regional disparity (which is a feature of the economic and social situation in Lebanon); there is evidently a high proportion of deprived children in the governorates of the North (where 56.4% of children are in the low satisfaction group), Nabatiyah (54.2%) and Bekaa (50%) in comparison with the national average, which is close to the percentage in the governorate of the South (42.9%), whereas the proportion of deprived children in the governorates of Mount Lebanon (31.1%) and Beirut (23.2%) is below the national average. This gives a clear picture of the geographical breakdown of child deprivation in outlying rural areas.

Breakdown of children by living standard and governorate

(percentage of total children in the governorate)

Governorate

Low

Average

High

Total

Beirut

23.2

47.3

29.5

100

Mount Lebanon

31.1

46.6

22.4

100

North

56.3

33.8

9.8

100

South

42.9

45.5

11.6

100

Bekaa

50

41.4

8.7

100

Nabatiyah

54.3

40.5

5.8

100

Lebanon

42.3

42.1

10.6

100

Breakdown of children (aged under 18) by standard of living category and governorate

120.The information also shows that the proportions of deprived children vary according to field. For instance, the proportion of children who are considered to fall below the satisfaction threshold in regard to water and sanitation is the lowest, reaching no higher than 18.8%, in comparison with 64% of children whose needs in this area are moderately satisfied. The proportion of deprived children in regard to housing, however, is 40.1% and reaches its highest of 55.8% in regard to income indicators.

Breakdown of children by living standard and secondary areas

(percentage of total children in Lebanon)

Low

Average

High

Total

Water and sanitation

18.8

64

17.2

100

Housing

40.1

28.3

31.6

100

Education

34.9

42.7

31.6

100

Income-related indicators

55.8

29.5

14.7

100

General standard of living

42.3

42.1

15.6

100

Breakdown of children (aged under 18) by level of satisfaction in the four areas

121.As for the living standard of the subgroups divided by age, it is noticeable in general that the proportionate share of deprived children aged under six and of those in the 15-17 age group is lower than in the other age groups (6-14 years). This is attributable to the likelihood of children dropping out of school at these ages, to the poor state of the employment market and to extremely low wages. In absolute terms, these disparities are less significant than the regional disparities. They should, however, form the subject of an in-depth study aimed at identifying their extent and their causes.

Domestic breakdown of the three-year age groups by living standard

(percentage of total children per age group)

Age in years

Low

Average

High

Total

0-2 ans

38

41,9

20,1

100

3-5 ans

41,4

41,1

17,5

100

6-8 ans

44

42,1

17,5

100

9-11 ans

44,9

42,1

13,8

100

12-14 ans

44,2

42,5

13,3

100

15-17 ans

40

42,9

17,1

100

0-17 ans

42,3

42,1

15,6

100

CHAPTER IV

POLICIES ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD

4.1Introduction

122.Together with international and national governmental and non-governmental organizations, States pledged their endeavour to carry into effect the rights of the child as now determined. The Convention on the Rights of the Child brings together these rights under a number of general headings, such as the right to survival, the right to protection, the right to development and the right to participation. Under each of these headings are various items which give concrete shape to that general pledge, covering areas such as child health, education, family life, employment, civil rights and procedures for civil protection.

123.These rights are linked to one another and to the overall environment within which society develops, since it is difficult to envisage the possibility of quantitatively and consistently advancing the status of children in a specific country other than within the context of an overall national policy or strategy that is part of a comprehensive national option favouring human-centred development.

4.2Elements of the national strategy on childhood

124.Two prerequisites are indispensable to the adoption of a national policy (or strategy) on childhood:

(a)The first is the political will of the decision-makers to ensure that the question of furthering protection of the status of children is a priority of the State and of society;

(b)The second is the availability of scientific and practical information on the status of children, their problems and their needs.

125.Once these two prerequisites are satisfied, steps can be taken to formulate a general national strategy or policy on childhood which is marked by comprehensiveness and continuity and which contains the necessary ingredients for success. As such, there is an implicit need to:

-Set overall and final objectives;

-Set secondary objectives and categorize them by sector and field;

-Devise implementing plans of action comprising the priorities and time frames for achievement of the objectives;

-Ensure correlation between the secondary and the final objectives, as well as integration, simultaneity and progressive achievement of the secondary and sectoral objectives;

-Determine the responsible bodies, the means of implementation and the follow-up, monitoring and remedial mechanisms;

-Ensure the material, institutional and human resources needed for implementation.

126.In order to achieve consistency with the modern-day concepts of development, this type of strategy should be formulated in conjunction with all parties concerned with development, namely the Government and representatives of civil society and the private sector. The State in particular has an essential role to play in coordinating this effort and ensuring the requirements for its success, since the private sector has little interest in this field and is unable to serve as the strongest link in view of its operating mechanisms and its own objectives. Similarly, despite the extremely important role which non-governmental organizations play in this field and which they should endeavour to establish and maintain, neither their institutional capabilities nor their coordination capacities are sufficient to enable then to assume the major role. The success of this strategy thus undoubtedly depends on full partnership between the governmental and non-governmental sectors and on the gradual success achieved in motivating the private sector to take an interest in this effort and provide material and institutional support.

4.3Government policy on childhood

127.In September 1995, the Higher Council for Childhood drafted a document entitled “The National Plan of Action for the Survival, Protection and Development of Children in Lebanon”. The only document on the subject issued by any governmental or non-governmental body, it distinctly represents the policy of both governmental and non-governmental sectors in the field of childhood. Such is the approach which the Higher Council for Childhood has adopted since its establishment with a view to coordinating the these two sectors.

128.This document, however, cannot be regarded as a national strategy on childhood in the sense referred to above. As yet, Lebanon has no such strategy in place, although that fact does not exclude its ministries and official agencies from having subsidiary plans and programmes which address the rights of the child. Nor does it imply an absence of general and sectoral policies which have an impact on the status of children.

129.For these reasons, this chapter represents an attempt to examine the child-related components and policies in the different fields of government activity and survey the official and unofficial bodies and institutions concerned with this field. It also includes an analysis of the above-mentioned plan of the Higher Council for Childhood. In that light, it will endeavour to outline the practical features of the policy on childhood as contained in the policies and practices of the Government and of the non-governmental sector.

130.On another note, the direct connection between the status of children and general household living conditions has already been pointed out, together with the fact that the rights of the child are more highly guaranteed whenever greater attention is devoted to the social substance of growth plans and development projects. Consequently, and given that it is impossible to examine and analyse on an individual basis each of the child-related components contained in the various policies and programmes, the attention devoted to the social dimension in general will be regarded as an indicator of improvement in the status of children. On this basis, social spending will be analysed, as will projects which promote human and social development inasmuch as they create an environment which is conducive to the furtherance of child development. Any children’s projects will be analysed separately.

4.4Analysis of Government spending

131.Analysis of the general budget is regarded as an excellent indicator by which to examine government policies and approaches to social and economic issues. The general budget demonstrates the practical commitment of the Government to certain priorities and, as such, it constitutes a direct expression of its general and sectoral policies. The use of the budget to that end, however, is determined by a number of factors, two of which are particularly significant:

(a)The first is that the budget has been less significant as a means of Government intervention since implementation of the reconstruction programme began. This is because reconstruction spending and funding are separate from the general budget, which is now mainly confined to debt servicing, current expenditure and the payment of salaries to civil servants, with limited spending on equipment and investment. In this sense, an analysis of the general budget is insufficient to show the extent of government commitment to various issues. Consequently, an additional analysis of government spending through the reconstruction programme must also be made in order to compensate for that insufficiency.

(b)The second factor is related to the subject of the report (the status of children) in that the mass details needed in order to monitor spending on children are frequently unavailable. Initially, therefore, the budget and the spending on reconstruction will be analysed in terms of social spending, which has positive implications for enhancing the status of children. Other sections will devote special attention to the subject in cases where the availability of data so allows.

4.4.1The general budget

132.In examining the breakdown of overall spending on the different budget items in the 1993-1998 budgets, it is clear that debt servicing alone constitutes over 40% of the total expenditure and that, as such, it is the major item. This situation has already been pointed out as a factor which is detrimental to the interests of children, given that the public debt burden is transferred from the present generations to the next.

133.In addition, the ministries which receive the highest share of the expenditure are generally those with the highest number of employees, thus explaining the high share received by the Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of the Interior (which are responsible for the army and the internal security forces), as well as by the Ministry of National Education (which is responsible for the teachers in State schools). These are followed by the ministries which provide public services for citizens, in particular the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs. As already pointed out, the general budget is a budget of salaries (from the aspect of servicing the public debt). Consequently, a ministry's share in the total expenditure primarily reflects its share in the salaries of public sector employees more than it reflects its share in service or development projects (which is insignificant and applies only to the service ministries).

134.Generally speaking, the core social ministries which are directly or indirectly concerned with children are as follows: National Education, Youth and Sport; Public Health; Labour; Vocational and Technical Training; and Social Affairs. In the 1998 budget, the combined share of these ministries in the total estimated expenditure amounted to 11.6%, more than half of which constituted the share of the Ministry of Education (teacher salaries). In previous years (during the war), this percentage was even lower.

General budgets for the years 1993-1998 (per cent)

Item no.

Item

1993

%

1994

%

1995

%

1996

%

1997

%

1998

%

1

Office of the President of the Republic

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

2

National Assembly

1.1

0.1

0.7

0.5

0.6

0.5

3

Office of the President of the National Assembly

0.8

10.4

12.3

9.4

6.4

6.5

4

Ministry of Justice

0.4

0.4

0.5

0.4

0.5

0.5

5

Ministry for Foreign Affairs

1.3

1.7

1.4

1.2

1.2

1.2

6

Ministry of the Interior

5.8

5.7

5.7

4.8

5.4

4.6

7

Ministry of Finance

0.8

0.8

0.8

0.7

0.7

0.6

8

Ministry of Defence

14.0

13.4

11.8

10.2

11.5

10.2

9

Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sport

5.2

5.8

5.7

4.9

6.0

6.2

10

Ministry of Public Health

3.2

3.1

2.8

2.3

2.5

3.6

11

Ministry of Labour

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.1

0.1

12

Ministry of Information

0.2

0.3

1.4

0.2

0.3

0.3

13

Ministry of Public Works and Transport

3.2

4.4

4.2

3.3

2.3

1.7

14

Ministry of Agriculture

1.0

0.9

0.7

0.5

0.7

0.5

15

Ministry of Economy and Trade

0.3

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

16

Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications

0.3

0.2

0.3

0.2

0.2

0.2

17

Constitutional Council

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

18

Ministry of Electricity and Water Resources

1.1

0.8

1.2

0.9

2.2

1.2

19

Ministry of Tourism

0.1

0.4

0.3

0.1

0.2

0.1

20

Ministry of Oil

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

21

Ministry of Housing and Cooperatives

1.3

0.6

0.3

0.2

0.1

0.7

22

Ministry for the Affairs of Displaced Persons

0.1

0.2

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

23

Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs

0.4

0.5

0.3

0.1

0.0

0.0

24

Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training

0.4

0.6

0.7

0.5

0.6

0.4

25

Ministry of Social Affairs

1.1

1.3

1.2

1.4

1.5

1.3

26

Ministry of Emigrant Affairs

0.0

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

27

Ministry of Transport

1.8

0.6

1.9

1.5

1.4

1.4

28

Ministry of Culture and Higher Education

1.8

1.7

1.9

0.9

2.4

2.7

29

Ministry of Environment

0.0

0.2

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

30

Ministry of Industry

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

31

Debts payable

45.4

33.8

40.5

40.3

42.0

43.7

32

Budget reserve

1.4

11.2

2.9

15.0

10.7

11.3

Total

100

100

100

100

100

100

135.The share of these ministries in the general expenditure is low. Between 1993 and 1998, however, there was an increase in the absolute values of the sums which they were allocated. The allocations made to the Ministry of Social Affairs, for example, increased from 34.6 billion Lebanese pounds in 1993 to 94.4 billion Lebanese pounds in 1998, while those made to the Ministry of Health increased from 109.4 billion Lebanese pounds in 1993 to 455.6 Lebanese pounds in 1998. These allocations, however, were insufficient to fund the services required in accordance with the adopted policies. Moreover, a smaller percentage was allocated to children in particular (as will be discussed in the sections covering health care and analysing the services provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs).

Budgets of selected ministries in the years 1993-1998

(billions of Lebanese pounds)

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

Ministry of the Interior

197.5

230.4

323.4

310.8

349.2

338.5

Ministry of Defence

476.3

539.6

665.4

658.6

738.1

750

Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sport

178.3

233.8

321.6

314.4

387.9

455.6

Ministry of Public Health

109.4

123.7

159.4

149.7

159.6

261.3

Ministry of Labour

1.4

1.4

0.2

2.4

3.8

4.4

Ministry of Housing and Cooperatives

42.7

25.9

17.2

13.4

3.7

53.6

Ministry for the Affairs of Displaced Persons

4.4

6.1

7.3

6.5

7.3

8.9

Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs

12.6

18.6

14.7

3.8

0.5

1

Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training

13.6

25.2

40

32.7

39.9

32.7

Ministry of Social Affairs

27.6

51.5

67.9

88.4

94.5

94.4

Ministry of Culture and Higher Education

59.9

70.2

105.1

60.6

153.8

195.4

Ministry of the Environment

1.4

7.5

8

6

5.5

5.3

Debts payable

1 542

1 358

2 278

2 600

2 700

3 200

General budget total

3 400

3 021

5 628

6 458

6 433

7 320

4.4.2Spending on reconstruction

136.At the end of 1992, the Council for Reconstruction and Development was commissioned by the Government to draft a plan for reconstruction and economic revival. Subsequently expanded and amended, this plan is now known as the Reconstruction and Development Plan for the Year 2000. In the first version of this plan, $11.7 billion at 1992 rates was earmarked for government spending, most of which went into projects to repair the infrastructure damaged during the war and vital to relaunching the economy. Following its expansion, the total cost of the plan, including the various financial burdens and the cost of making up the general budget deficit, amounted to approximately $31 billion at current rates, to be spent during the period 1995-2007. The share of the social sectors in the original total of this expenditure amounted to about 25%. These included the sectors of education, youth and sport, vocational and technical training, higher education, health, social affairs, displaced persons and housing.

137.In practice, this ambitious reconstruction programme is being implemented gradually on the basis of the financial resources available for the purpose. The Council for Reconstruction and Development issues regular reports on the progress of work and on the practical implementation of the programme which provide the main source of information for the analysis of government spending on reconstruction.

138.The report on the progress of work issued in January 1998 outlines the projects completed between the beginning of 1992 and the end of 1997 on the basis of the following four-point classification: basic infrastructure; social and economic sectors; public administration; and productive sectors and other services. The following table summarizes the progress of work in each of these areas:

Progress of work in regard to implementation of the reconstruction project

(January 1992-December 1997)

Sector

Total

Finished contracts

Unfinished contracts

Progress of work (%)

No.

Amount

No.

Amount

No.

Amount

Electricity

47

1 281.0

28

372.3

19

908.8

43

Posts and telecommunications

88

622.4

83

138.0

5

484.4

79

Roads, motorways and public transport

86

376.2

45

81.3

41

294.9

42

Solid waste

25

217.8

17

46.8

8

171.0

54

Infrastructure

246

2 497.4

173

638.4

73

1 859.1

Drinking water supply and sanitation

148

397.6

51

55.9

97

341.7

47

Education

446

422.9

380

96.7

66

326.3

24

Public health

68

118.2

24

3.3

44

114.9

36

Social affairs

17

3.1

13

1.6

2

0.4

Environment

6

4.8

1

0.3

5

4.5

7

Housing and repatriation of displaced persons

15

4.2

14

2.5

1

1.7

90

Social and economic sectors

700

950.8

483

160.3

215

789.5

Ports and airport

25

526.4

9

10.3

16

516.1

55

Government buildings

85

81.8

61

18.8

24

62.9

61

Public administration

110

608.2

70

29.1

40

579

Agriculture and irrigation

42

39.1

27

14.1

15

25.1

31

Industry and oil

14

3.1

11

0.8

3

2.3

42

Project management and other forms of management

224

128.5

184

89.6

40

38.8

53

Productive sectors and other services

280

170.7

222

104.5

58

66.2

Overall total

1 336

4 227.1

948

932.3

386

3 293.8

48

Source: Report on the progress of work - 1998, Council for Reconstruction and Development.

139.The table below shows that the share of the social and economic sectors amounts to 22.5% of the total planned expenditure on reconstruction and 17.2% of the total expenditure on finished projects, compared with 68.5% of the expenditure on basic infrastructure.

Share of the different sectors in the total expenditure on reconstruction

(per cent)

Sector

Complete

Under completion

Total

Basic infrastructure

68.5

56.4

59.1

Social and economic sectors

17.2

24.0

22.5

Public administration

3.1

17.6

14.4

Productive sectors and other services

11.2

2.0

4.0

Total

100.0

100.0

100.0

Source: Report on the progress of work - 1998, Council for Reconstruction and Development.

140.Closer examination of the type projects implemented and their implications in regard to enhancing the status of children in Lebanon shows the following:

-Concerning water and sanitation, projects were implemented to renovate the grids and to increase access to drinking water in Beirut and the rural areas in the north and the Bekaa. Although children were not the target of these projects, they were nevertheless included in so far as they are members of the families targeted to receive access to safe water, which is one of the basic needs stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Similarly, although the sanitation projects were not specifically targeted at children, they have positive repercussions on the environment, particularly in view of the noteworthy projects to establish plants for processing effluent before it flows into the sea.

-In the main, the educational projects comprise the renovation of 1,280 government secondary schools and the supply of laboratory apparatus and equipment to some of these schools. Such is the basic child-related aspect of these projects. The other projects implemented in this field are either connected with higher education or government-owned buildings, or are still in the initial stages of consideration or planning.

-The core projects carried out in the field of public health included the construction of nine health centres and three new government hospitals, all of which are in rural areas. This is expected to have a positive impact on the status of health care in general, including child health care.

-The projects implemented by the Ministry of Social Affairs are such as to contribute to studies and institutional development.

141.To summarize, the spending of 17.5% on social projects includes infrastructural work and renovation and equipment of the social sectors. The percentage would be lower, however, if the classification of items included under the heading of the social sector were more precise (for instance, should drinking water and sanitation be classified under the social sector, under services or under basic public facilities?). Moreover, with the exception of projects involving secondary schools, child-targeted projects in particular cannot be precisely defined, since they provide services for the groups between the ages of four or five and 18 years. Consequently, the spending on reconstruction has partially improved the overall picture of social spending in the general budget. It does not, however, alter the general conclusion that the share of social spending is still below the amount required in the circumstances of Lebanon, which continues to experience the social and economic effects of the war.

4.5International assistance for children’s programmes run by the non-governmental sector

142.Of the international assistance generally allocated to the non-governmental sector, the share earmarked for children showed a falling trend between 1994 and 1998, although the estimated share in 1998 was an improvement over the previous year.

Share of children’s projects in the total amount of international assistance

to the non-governmental sector

Payments

Target group: children

Subject of activity: children

Total

Amount in dollars

Percentage of total

Amount in dollars

Percentage of total

1994

25 286 300

16

4 683 767

3.0

157 139 000

1995

20 364 855

9.5

4 593 587

2.2

212 268 000

1996

12 059 615

3.7

3 335 740

1.0

328 995 000

1997

15 074 586

6.5

1 775 149

0.8

230 606 000

1998 (estimated)

10 408 030

7.4

3 276 036

2.3

140 492 000

Source: UNDP

143.It is noteworthy that the interests of the non-governmental organizations active in the field of childhood are broad and decentralized, ranging from the provision of welfare services (various forms of assistance, nurseries and so on), preventive health care and recreation to follow-up of the implementation of laws which protect the rights of the child. Joint activities are also carried out by various federations and associations, particularly during national events and campaigns, within the cooperative framework of the Higher Council for Childhood, which acts as the coordinator between the government sector and international organizations.

144.In this context, particular reference should be made to the convening of the Children’s Parliament in the National Assembly in 1996 and the press conference to follow up the recommendations of the Parliament during the following year, as well as the march in 1998 against child labour under the banner “From labour to education”. These are all examples of the activities and follow-up which took place during the ensuing years.

Recommendations of the Children's Parliament of 18 August 1996

145.The session of the Children's Parliament was held in the National Assembly and chaired by the President of the Assembly, Mr. Nabih Berri. A total of 133 children aged between 6 and 18 years of age attended. At the close of the session, the child participants held a press conference in which they announced recommendations to:

(i)Follow up implementation of the recommendations made at the session of the Children's Parliament in accordance with the provisions contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child;

(ii)Call upon the executive and legislative authorities to ensure that social development projects give priority to the principle of the rights of the child and to the best interests of the child;

(iii)Emphasize the need to empower children to enjoy their rights to education, health and protection from all forms of exploitation;

(iv)Endeavour to combat all forms of violence against children and the infliction of mental or bodily harm on children, and introduce stricter penalties for offenders;

(v)Seek health and social security for children whose parents are not included under such security, and build hospitals in the remote areas of the country;

(vi)Endeavour to implement free and compulsory education at the primary stage and to create school places for all children;

(vii)Raise awareness of the dangers of toxic and chemical waste, environmental pollution and the effect of chemical pesticides on children's health;

(viii)Seek public parks and libraries, as well as children's playgrounds and clubs, and ensure that importance is attached in the curricula to the subjects of drawing, music and drama and to all recreational and extra-curricular activities;

(ix)Devote more attention to children's television programmes and provide educational programmes for children;

(x)Seek to resolve the problem of homeless children and child beggars, and to achieve their rehabilitation and social integration with a view to protecting them from the risk of deviancy;

(xi)Seek to transfer any delinquent children still in prison to reform centres and place them in rehabilitation programmes and under protective measures;

(xii)Seek to take care of disabled persons and to achieve their social integration;

(xiii)Seek to build refuges for the protection of children in the south;

(xiv)Emphasize the need to introduce the subject of child rights into the school curricula;

(xv)Emphasize the need to implement child-related laws;

(xvi)Establish a permanent Children's Parliament.

4.6Bodies concerned with the drafting and implementation of a national strategy for childhood

146.In accordance with the modern-day approach to development adopted in this report, compliance with and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the responsibility of society as a whole, which includes the Government, the private sector and the non-governmental sector. It is also the responsibility of national and local bodies. All in all, it is the integration of such roles and functions which guarantees achievement of the best results.

4.6.1Responsibility of the private sector

147.It is now customary to avoid discussing the responsibility of the private sector in matters connected with human and social development in Lebanon and to confine the discussion to the responsibility of the Government or State and of the non-governmental sector. On this score, however, the private sector has an important role to play in Lebanon, particularly since the majority of government investment in infrastructural repair and in institutional and legislative development is specifically designed to spur the initiative of the private sector and lead it to assume a leading role in the anticipated growth process. An additional reason for the reciprocation of the private sector, which benefits from the wealth of society as a whole, is the concern to allocate some of its resources toward fulfilling a social role, which the country needs. In Lebanon specifically, the responsibility of the private sector is made greater by virtue of the fact that it plays a distinctively more vital role than the public and non-governmental sectors in more than one social field. It plays the most important role, for instance, in education, particularly pre-university education, which is relevant to the age group included in the definition of the child. It also plays the main role in the health sector, runs most of the nurseries operating in Lebanon and own four of the six television stations. The same applies to radio, the toy business and industry, children’s cultural materials and so on.

148.The private sector runs these types of activities along the same principles as other activities. In other words, the first and last criterion is invariably rapid material gain, even if it means sacrificing some of the essential non-economic principles which apply in such cases.

149.On this basis, the participation of the private sector in formulating the national strategy on childhood helps it to make a substantial contribution that is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and with the interests of the country's children, without hindering the economic mechanisms of its activity. The responsibility of this sector can be determined at more than one level. For example:

-Mutual understanding should be reached concerning observation of the requirements to ensure that healthy conditions and an appropriate education are provided at reasonable cost in the nurseries and schools belonging to the private sector;

-More attention should be devoted to primary health care and prevention instead of focusing solely on therapeutic medicine and courses of treatment;

-The private media should assume more responsibility in respecting the rights of children in the programmes which they transmit and increase the quota of such programmes in the total transmission time;

-Toy manufacturers, businesses and advertisers should devote attention to the promotion of educational toys;

-The owners of large wealthy corporations should devote interest to establishing nurseries, playgrounds and recreational centres for the children of their worker;

-The private sector should refrain from breaching the child labour laws.

150.Such initiatives are always possible and the private sector can offer a modest contribution to furthering the process of development and enhancing the status of children by undertaking similar initiatives or lending its support to the initiatives of others. None the less, however large the contribution, it will not be greater than the multitude of benefits which this sector reaps from the huge government investment of the country's wealth with a view to further investment and profit.

4.6.2Government bodies concerned with childhood

151.As a result of the expansion of child rights, a considerable number of ministries and government institutions are now directly or otherwise concerned with the subject. This section simply lists the main authorities in question, concentrating on their roles and areas of intervention, as the subject will be covered in more detail in other chapters and sections of the report.

152.In Lebanon, the main Government bodies and institutions concerned with children are as follows:

a)The Parliamentary Committee on the Rights of the Child

153.The Parliamentary Committee on the Rights of the Child was formed in 1991 in reaction to the increasing international interest in childhood and as a practical outcome of Lebanon’s signature of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This Committee is chaired by a member of Parliament and includes various deputies in its membership, in addition to a representative of UNICEF, the Secretary-General of the Higher Council for Childhood and various representatives of the non-governmental organizations working in the field of childhood. The main function of this Committee is to work on drafting the necessary legislation or on amending existing legislative acts with a view to implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Its responsibilities also include adoption of the legislative and monitoring measures needed to guarantee implementation of and compliance with such laws. The Parliamentary Committee cooperates with the relevant ministries and with the non-governmental and private sectors in the interests of discharging its function. It has helped to bring about new laws and introduce amendments to existing laws. At the present time, it is endeavouring to amend the laws with a view to the imposition of heavier fines and penalties for offences and crimes against children. It is also drafting a bill to reduce the child entrance fees to tourist and cultural attractions to 50% of the normal fees and to introduce a special health card for children aged under five (as an initial step) that allows them free admission to hospital emergency departments in a medical emergency.

(b)The Ministry of Social Affairs

154.Established in 1993, the Ministry is responsible for drafting plans for development and social welfare and for following up their implementation. in addition to drafting such plans, it is also responsible for providing welfare services to needy groups of inhabitants, including impoverished families and individuals, orphans, disabled persons and juvenile delinquents, and for assisting women and housewives in particular. The Ministry provides these services either directly or with the support of the non-governmental organizations which offer such services. It also supervises the work of the Higher Council for Childhood, the National Committee for the Eradication of Illiteracy, the Standing Committee on Housing and the National Organization for the Disabled and has links with several projects aimed at the family in general or at women in particular. The child-related activities of the Ministry will be discussed in further detail in the sections to come.

(c)The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training

155.These two Ministries have essential responsibility for children, concerned as they are with providing a good education and preparing children for their productive roles, their social roles and citizenship. This aspect has been covered in another chapter of this report.

(d)The Ministry of Public Health

156.This Ministry is responsible for drafting and implementing the policy on health. Operating on the basis of its commitment to health care as a right of every citizen, it endeavours to ensure this right within the context of the available means and resources. Details of the situation in the health sector are also discussed in another chapter of this report. In the present context, it is sufficient to say that the provision of care services and health protection for children is part of the Ministry's general responsibility.

(e)The Ministry of Labour

157.Its essential responsibilities are to regulate the labour market and ensure observance of the laws governing child labour. The Ministry has links with the National Employment Institution and has been commissioned to conduct studies on the labour market and draw up a recruitment policy on the basis of those studies. It is also charged with the provision of vocational guidance, training and retraining in various fields of specialization for young persons over the age of 15 years. In addition, it is responsible for the provision of work opportunities for job-seekers through its own employment offices. All of these matters are relevant to the rights of child workers.

(f)Other ministries

158.In performing their general functions, the activity of other ministries is of indirect relevance to children. The successful fulfilment of tasks by the Ministry of Environment, for example, provides a healthy environment for children and the implementation of housing projects improves their living conditions. The same applies to the Ministry of Justice and so on. In a report such as this, the scope for discussing such contributions is limited, although essential references to their roles will be made in the overall context, where necessary.

4.7Child welfare as part of the activity of the Ministry of Social Affairs

159.Of all the ministries and government bodies, the Ministry of Social Affairs is the one most concerned with the status of children in Lebanon. Its area of concern includes aspects relating to the rights of the child and it carries out its tasks in a variety of forms, such as engaging in joint activities with other government bodies, carrying out supervision through its own bodies, which are relatively independent, and exercising direct responsibility for implementation.

160.In the first of these instances, the Ministry of Social Affairs participates with other ministries and official institutions in bodies which share responsibility for a specific child-related field. Examples are its participation with the Ministry of Labour and the National Employment Institution (inter alia) in following up the question of child employment, its participation in labour committees with the Ministry of Justice, the Parliamentary Committee on the Rights of the Child and others in following up the subject of child-related legislation and its joint work with the Ministry of Health in connection with health care services and so on. In these fields and related activities, the Ministry fulfils its role as a partner.

161.In the second instance, the Ministry is in charge of supervising a number of the national committees specializing in matters which are directly or indirectly related to children. One such committee is the Standing Committee on Housing, which is responsible for drawing up suitable policies on housing and family-related matters of inescapable relevance to children, including programmes for family planning, reproductive health and maternal and child health. Other committees include the Higher Council for Childhood (to be discussed in greater detail in due course), the National Organization for the Disabled and the National Committee for the Eradication of Illiteracy. Further examples of this instance are the Ministry’s supervision of the design and implementation of the statistical survey on housing and population and related specialist studies and its joint responsibility with the Ministry of Health for the Lebanese survey of maternal and child health. The Ministry plays a key role in each of the above bodies, through which it follows up specialist or general matters in connection with the status of children.

162.The third instance involves the projects and services which the Ministry is responsible for carrying out, either directly or by means of contracts with the non-governmental sector. In particular, these include welfare services for children and for families in need of assistance. As will be discussed in some detail, the Ministry is the only official agency with responsibility in this regard.

163.The role of welfare is therefore central to the tasks of the Ministry of Social Affairs. Welfare is generally offered to needy families and those in difficult social circumstances (such as orphans, widows and disabled persons), as well as to the children in such families. As a social group, children can therefore be regarded as major beneficiaries of the general welfare activity of the Ministry of Social Affairs and of its specific child-related welfare activity.

164.The Ministry of Social Affairs comprises a number of different directorates and departments, whose mandates range from welfare and social development to planning, research and administrative work. This discussion, however, is confined to the pioneering work of the Directorate of Social Services, which is particularly relevant to families and children in particular.

165.With reference to the annual report on the Ministry’s activities during 1996, which provide an example of its work, almost 3,000 persons were assisted during that year and the Ministry entered into contracts with 163 social welfare institutions in the different governorates. The groups of children included in the assistance provided are orphans, those in difficult social circumstances (poverty, family disintegration and so on), infants in families in need (the term “infants” includes illegitimate children and foundlings) and delinquents (welfare services are also provided for incapacitated persons and others). The breakdown of such services by governorate and region is as follows:

Orphans

Social cases

Infants

Delinquents

Total

Percentage

Beirut

810

5 218

494

0

6 647

22.5

Mount Lebanon

999

11 466

280

50

12 920

43.6

North

258

3 071

137

50

3 541

12.0

Bekaa

150

2 315

75

0

2 540

8.6

South

256

3 691

280

0

4 227

14.3

Total

2 473

25 761

1 266

100

29 600

100.0

Percentage

8.4

87.0

4.3

0.3

100

Source: Ministry of Social Affairs, annual report of 1996.

166.It is clear from examining this table that children in families who endure difficult living conditions constitute the overwhelming majority (87%) of those who benefited from assistance, compared with 8.4% of orphans, thus confirming the earlier conclusions drawn in regard to the deteriorating social conditions, their effect on family life and children in the family and the need for more wide-ranging assistance programmes, rather than programmes which are exclusively limited to groups with special needs. Another striking point is the uneven geographical distribution of the services provided, in which respect Mount Lebanon is in the forefront, followed by Beirut, the North and so on. We shall shortly return to this subject in view of its relationship with the extent of need in these areas.

167.In 1996, a total of 29,600 children in Lebanon benefited from assistance, representing some 6.3% of the total number of deprived children in the country (estimated at approximately 468,559) in accordance with the index or guide to living conditions referred to earlier in chapter III. It should be pointed out, however, that, the number of children in the most deprived group who are in need immediate welfare assistance is lower in comparison with other studies, ranging between one-fifth and one-quarter of that figure. In addition, the number of orphans benefiting from assistance stood at 2,473, representing 7.7% of the approximate number of children who live in families where the head of the household is widowed (amounting to 32,283 children).

168.Concerning the regional distribution of the number of persons benefiting from assistance, it is noticeable that Beirut and Mount Lebanon have a much higher proportionate share of the total number of such persons compared with the theoretical number of deprived children who are eligible to benefit from these services. Accordingly, whereas the governorate of the North contains the largest number of deprived children, no more than 2.2% benefit from assistance. This figure is 3.2% in the Bekaa and 4.6% in the governorate of the South (the South and Nabatiyah combined), compared with 11.4% in Mount Lebanon and 25.5% in Beirut. Although it is possible that a percentage of children from all governorates are in welfare institutions in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, their numbers are too insignificant to account for this discrepancy.

Deprived children and children benefiting from assistance by region

(number and percentage)

Deprived children

Children benefiting from assistance

Percentage of children benefiting from assistance

Beirut

26 105

6 647

25.5

Mount Lebanon

113 027

12 920

11.4

North

158 187

3 541

2.2

Bekaa

79 342

2 540

3.2

South

91 898

4 227

4.6

Total

468 559

29 600

6.3

Source: Ministry of Social Affairs, annual reports of 1993 and 1996.

169.Concerning the growth and development of the Ministry’s work to provide services for those in need, between 1993 and 1996, there was a reported increase in the number of children benefiting from assistance, amounting to 7,779 cases, or in other words, an increase of 35.6% compared with 1993.

Increase in the number of persons benefiting from assistance and percentages of cases

between 1993 and 1996

1993 (number)

1996 (number)

1993 (per cent)

1996 (per cent)

Orphans

1 713

2 473

7.9

8.4

Social cases

19 049

25 761

87.3

87.0

Infants

754

1 266

3.5

4.3

Delinquents

30

100

0.1

0.3

Beggars

275

0

1.3

0.0

Total

21 821

29 600

100

100

Source: Ministry of Social Affairs, annual reports of 1993 and 1996.

170.The rate of increase in the number of children benefiting from assistance between 1993 and 1996 (35.6%) is much lower than the rate of increase in the sums allocated to the Ministry in the general budget, amounting to 135.1%, whereas the Ministry’s relative share in the general expenditure increased from 1.1% to 1.4% (in other words, at a rate of 27.3%). This implies that it is not enough to use the numerical increase in the allocated sums as an indicator of the progress achieved in child welfare, as this increase is absorbed by a number of different factors (including above all the overall increase in the cost of these services), which prevents a corresponding expansion in the services provided.

Change in the budgets and services of the Ministry of Social Affairs

(1993 and 1996)

1993

1996

Increase

Percentage increase

Number receiving assistance

21 821

29 600

7 779

35.6

Budget (billions of Lebanese pounds)

37.6

88.4

50.8

135.1

Share of the general budget

1.1%

1.4%

0.3

27.3

Source: General budgets and annual reports of the Ministry of Social Affairs.

171.In the main, the types of projects undertaken by the institutions contracted to the Ministry of Social Affairs involve health centres (63.1%) and, to a lesser extent, social centres (18.2%) and nurseries (15.9%). These projects represent the direct share of children in the activities of the non-governmental organizations which receive support from the Ministry through the contracts scheme (1996 figures, which have remained virtually unchanged since 1993).

Centres contracted to the Ministry of Social Affairs by type and governorate in 1996

Social centres

Health centres

Nurseries

Training centres

Service homes

Centres for the blind

Homes for the physically disabled

Vocational proficiency centres

Family planning centres

Total

Beirut

2

6

5

1

0

1

0

0

0

15

Mount Lebanon

7

50

9

0

1

1

1

0

0

68

North

5

27

5

0

0

0

1

0

0

38

South

12

13

8

0

0

0

1

1

1

35

Bekaa

6

15

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

24

Total

32

111

28

1

1

2

3

1

1

176

%

18.2

63.1

15.9

0.6

0.6

1.1

1.7

0.6

0.6

100

Source: Ministry of Social Affairs, annual report of 1996.

172.Generally speaking, the child welfare services provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs are mainly educational (general education and vocational training) and related to the right of the child to education, followed by health and nutritional services (infants and families in need) relating to the right of the child to survival and healthy growth, and, thirdly, family assistance relating to the right of the child to live in a stable family environment that promotes his physical and mental development. Also provided are services for disabled children, which will be discussed elsewhere.

4.8The Higher Council for Childhood and its national plan

173.In 1994, the Council of Ministers issued a decision authorizing the Minister of Social Affairs to form the Higher Council for Childhood as a symbol of the policy of the Ministry of Social Affairs aimed at unifying and coordinating the efforts of the official and non-governmental sectors.

174.The Council comprises 19 members (in addition to its Secretary-General), consisting of 10 representatives of the government sector, 8 representives of the non-governmental sector and one representative of UNICEF (on behalf of the international organizations working in the area of childhood). As already mentioned, the private sector is unrepresented on the Council. The lack of participation of the private sector is a recurring phenomenon in more than one development-related field and is attributable to its hitherto low involvement in social or development work. By contrast, however, the governmental and non-governmental sectors are evenly represented and the government representation includes each of the different ministries concerned with application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Hence, the Council is principally the appropriate place for national plans in this field to take shape.

175.Since its establishment, the Higher Council for Childhood has been responsible for addressing the requirements in regard to implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and for organizing, or participating in the organization of, various types of information and awareness-raising activities, training and the preparation of reports for submission to international bodies.

176.Since 1995, the Higher Council for Childhood has been a member of the Supreme Technical Council for Arab Childhood Affairs of the League of Arab States, to which it transmitted the national plan for childhood welfare. It also regularly provides surveys and reports to the Children’s Department of the League of Arab States.

177.The Higher Council for Childhood began work on preparing a legal study comparing the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child with those contained in Lebanese legislation, legislation being regarded as the cornerstone of social action in connection with rights. On the basis of that study, it then submitted various proposals for the amendment of numerous Lebanese legal provisions with a view to achieving consistency with the principles stipulated in the Convention. It also played a part in the follow-up activities leading to the promulgation of new laws which are more in consistency with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

178.In May 1996, the Committee on the Rights of the Child discussed the initial report transmitted by the Council in October 1994. The Council is also supervising the preparation of this report, which will be used to prepare the national strategy for children in Lebanon.

179.On the organizational front, the Higher Council for Childhood is in the process of finalizing its rules of procedure and developing its work mechanisms with a view to enhancing its ability to implement the tasks assigned to it.

4.9The National Plan of Action for the Survival, Protection and Development of Children

180.Since the very first months of its establishment, the Council has endeavoured to give material form to its ideas in regard to implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by drafting an initial plan. Entitled the National Plan of Action for the Survival, Protection and Development of Children, this draft was completed in 1995. At the time, however, the prerequisites needed for the materialization of a plan or strategy in the sense referred to at the beginning of this chapter remained unsatisfied. The Plan therefore took the form of reviewing the major problems facing children and the available indicators. It also set out objectives and recommendations on the basis of the Convention and sectoral programmes in fields such as health and education. The following table summarizes the general make-up of the Council’s Plan.

The National Plan of Action for the Survival, Protection and Development of Children

Section/heading

Summary of content

1.Introduction

The introduction discusses the general international, regional and national framework at the economic and political levels, as well as the social impact on the status of children in particular. It specifically examines the Lebanese war and its destructive impact at various levels, including displacement and the overall deterioration of the standard of living. Finally, it concludes that the general law which prevailed in Lebanon during the difficult war years was that of the fight for survival and that it was consequently impossible to place overall or individual focus on the needs of mothers and children.

2.The status of children and mothers in Lebanon:

(a) Health and environment;

(b) Education;

(c) Protection and rehabilitation.

This section examines the data available on the status of children. Owing to the lack of statistics, however, the description is based on the statistics which were available at the time.

(a) Health and environment: Reference to the main problems, particularly in connection with child mortality rates, consanguineous marriage, water pollution, maternal and child health care, nutrition and so on. The Plan draws attention to the regional disparities.

(b) Education and training: Reference to the outdated curricula, the lack of an appropriate educational policy, problems of teacher distribution, the poor link between education and work, the war damage inflicted on government schools, the lack of opportunities and spaces for children's play and for young people to pursue their interests and so on.

(c) Protection and rehabilitation: Discussion of the psychological effects of the war on children and the problems of abandoned and orphan children, disability and so on.

3.The situation in the public sector in terms of services for mothers and children and its relationship with the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Here, general reference is made to the severe inadequacy of structures and institutions compared with requirements. This inadequacy occurs in both the non-governmental and government sectors. Due to the impact of the war, the government sector adapted its role in order to finance special initiatives in the field of educational and health services.

This section also discusses the commitments of those Governments having signed the Convention in connection with implementing its provisions, which include the adoption of measures to alter priorities, conduct budget reviews, produce statistics, carry out monitoring, develop research and so on.

4.Data and indicators in the light of the objectives

This section simply contains a table of the available indicators of the status of mothers and children in comparison with the objectives for 1995 and 2000. Most of these indicators were unavailable during the preparation of the Plan.

5.The Plan of Action:

(a) Health and environment;

(b) Education and training;

(c) Protection and rehabilitation.

This section contains further discussion of the three subheadings contained in the second section from the point of view of the recommendations and overall objectives in each field.

(a) Health and environment: Discussion of the health objectives as derived from the Convention on the Rights of the Child (21 different recommendations and objectives).

(b) Education and training: Discussion of the objectives of the plan for educational advancement in Lebanon (22 objectives).

(c) Protection and rehabilitation: Discussion of 14 objectives and recommendations covering different fields relating to child protection.

6.Key constants in the methodology of planning and implementation:

(a) Information and documentation;

(b) Combating child employment;

(c) Legislation: development, revitalization and follow-up.

This final section examines these three secondary fields (information, child employment and the development of legislation) in so far as they are priorities which should receive due attention.

181.A major obstacle to the preparation of a thoroughly comprehensive and integrated plan was the fact that the second essential prerequisite, referred to earlier, was unsatisfied. In other words, accurate scientific data and information on the social situation in general and the situation of children in particular was unavailable owing to the lack of national statistics and studies.

182.Those who prepared the plan of the Higher Council for Childhood were well aware of this gap, which limited the nature of the plan drawn up. In more than one instance, it is stated in the introduction to the Plan and in its conclusion that “field studies and scientific statistics are needed to ensure that the Plan corresponds to reality”, at which point the Higher Council for Childhood will be able to draw up “its national plans for children, which are part of the process of the nation’s social revival”. This was specifically linked to publication of the findings of the statistical survey of population and housing, which provides this vital information.

4.10Summary

183.Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides as follows:

“States Parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international cooperation.”

This article essentially deals with the need to formulate national plans or strategies for children, which is the subject covered by this chapter. In that connection, the international committees charged with elaborating general guidelines for the preparation of national reports emphasized the following points:

-A comprehensive strategy should be formulated with a view to realizing the rights stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and national reports should indicate the steps achieved to that end;

-General budgets should be analysed with a view to enabling society and decision-makers to determine the share of children in both public and social spending, identify the measures adopted in order to coordinate economic and social policies and reduce regional and social disparities, and lastly, pinpoint the level of interest shown in children's affairs by local authorities;

-Permanent government mechanisms and frameworks should be established with a view to devoting attention to children’s affairs and to coordination, follow-up and amendment of the plan in response to the changes and progress achieved in implementation;

-The necessary means and tools for monitoring and follow-up should be created, including those used in gathering and updating statistical information on a constant basis;

-The participation of representatives of civil society and children themselves in all matters relating to implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child should be guaranteed.

184.Consideration of the achievements which Lebanon has accomplished in connection with those points since its signature of the Convention shows the following:

(a)The need to devote more attention to the subject of the rights of the child was acknowledged for the first time and the first practical steps were also taken in that direction, as discussed in this and other chapters of this report. Even though these steps were neither sufficiently coordinated nor framed within a coherent plan, they were all consciously and intentionally included as part of the compliance with the requirements of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

(b)In regard to analysis of the general budgets, the approach to the subject adopted in this chapter is extremely general and thus inadequate. Undoubtedly, the failure to analyse the social significance of public spending constitutes a considerable gap which impedes the formulation of appropriate social policies, both in the field of childhood and in general.

(c)A key issue concerns the attention devoted by local authorities to the status of children and the extent to which they assume direct responsibility for guaranteeing children’s rights. Such attention is also indispensable as a prerequisite to shifting the focus away from the central and theoretical level of the matter and redirecting it to the places where children are present, as well as to the places where their rights are clearly exercised. In this respect, the absence of any elected municipalities in Lebanon since 1963 is a fundamental impediment to the transformation of development in general into a genuine local activity. The holding of municipal elections in 1998 was undeniably a great accomplishment in that it gave rise to hundreds of local bodies which are able to play a major role in ensuring enforcement of the rights of the child. It is not expected, however, that these municipalities will automatically and immediately assume this role, as they need help in giving material shape to their development role, as well as time to organize their work. Nevertheless, their very existence is a crucial step forward, as they are the parties to which non-governmental organizations can turn and coordinate with in the interests of implementing projects aimed at enhancing the status of children.

(d)As for the creation of permanent government frameworks to devote attention to children, practical steps were taken to that end with the establishment of the Higher Council for Childhood, the Parliamentary Committee on the Rights of the Child and the committee which grew out of the conference on the situation of child labour in Lebanon. Constituted by a decree promulgated by the Minister of Labour, this committee includes representatives from the official and non-governmental sectors and aims to elaborate a strategy to combat child labour. It should be pointed out, however, that the status of children cannot be viewed in isolation from the status of society as a whole. The establishment of the Higher Council for Childhood is therefore inadequate on its own in view of the interplay between the status of children and general social and economic conditions, as already mentioned several times. In that sense, the failure to constitute the economic and social council, despite the agreement in principle to do so, is a considerable failing. The members of this council are to include representatives of parties concerned with children (children themselves or the Higher Council for Childhood) with a view to ensuring that the question of the rights of the child forms part of the wider concern and that the interests of children are taken into account during the formulation of general and sectoral policies alike.

(e)In regard to monitoring, follow-up and information-gathering, there is admittedly a general problem in Lebanon as far as the follow-up and monitoring mechanisms are concerned. More effort must be made to improve them, as the legislative enactments and laws very frequently encompass many rights which are not exercised in practice for reasons of custom or owing to the ineffectiveness of monitoring and follow-up. As for information-gathering, however, the previous situation in which virtually no national statistics were available has been overcome. The situation is now greatly improved in comparison with a few years ago and effective measures are being taken to ensure, inter alia, that systematic and regular information-gathering is carried out and enhanced on a constant basis.

CHAPTER V

THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION

Article 28

5.1Compulsory education

185.In view of the evolving organization of society, the multitude of social institutions and social and technological development, the need for universal education became crucial to the life and continuity of society. These developments went hand in hand with the development of social and philosophical thinking, according to which the acquisition of knowledge continued to be regarded as an essential human right and not simply as a productive or economic need. It was in this context that the idea of compulsory education as the embodiment of this right or need emerged in the societies of today.

186.In each individual country, the prescribed limit for compulsory education is linked first to the level of scientific and technological development, secondly to the availability of resources and the potential to put compulsory education into practice, and thirdly to the philosophy of the social planning adopted by the State in determining its responsibility for guaranteeing that right. Compulsory education for all citizens inevitably implies that it is also free of charge, which depends primarily on the State’s assumption of the main responsibility for providing basic educational services. It should be noted that the provision of basic educational services is a responsibility of the State in the overwhelming majority of countries, irrespective of the difference in the social philosophies adopted by those countries.

187.Lebanon has not strayed off this course, even if, prior to 1988, the word “compulsory” as an expression of the aforementioned right or need was not part of the official government language used in connection with education. Article 19 of the Legislative Decree No. 134 of 12 June 1959 concerning the Ministry of Education stipulates that: “Education shall be free in the first primary stage and is a right of every Lebanese person of school age”. Article 5 of the same Decree, as amended by the Law of 14 May 1960, also stipulates that: “Pupils shall have free admission to State schools of all types and levels.”

188.At the time, these decrees constituted important steps in the process of strengthening State education in Lebanon, private education having already established a strong foothold in this vital area since the nineteenth century, in particular through foreign missions and educational institutions belonging to confessional groups. The measures taken by the Government to expand State education since the end of the 1950s were therefore in response to the urgent need to expand education throughout all regions of Lebanon and for all social groups, which can only occur through State education. It is worth noting that these measures formed part of the development policy pursued during the presidency of Fuad Shihab (1958-1964), who adopted the model of the welfare State as the guiding force behind the activity of the Government. Hence, the Government was committed, both in theory and in practice, to building State schools and expanding education in accordance with the principle of providing a school place for every pupil.

189.There was no legal requirement, however, for families to register their children in schools, as the idea of compulsory education was always deemed inconsistent with the liberal economic approach which the country followed and which distinguished it from the surrounding countries, all of which had embraced compulsory education in their laws. Laws alone, however, are not enough to guarantee universal education for all citizens unless all the other elements needed to turn compulsory education from a watchword into reality are present.

190.The 1990s brought elements of change to the government language in line with the national changes and the requirements for Lebanon's compliance arising from its signature of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The term “compulsory education” thus became part of the official language, appearing first in the Charter of National Reconciliation in Taif and subsequently in the plan to revive and restructure education. An initial attempt to promulgate a compulsory education act occurred in 1992, when the Government tabled a bill in the National Assembly providing for compulsory education to the age of 11 and for the imposition of fines on guardians who infringed the law. The National Assembly, however, returned the bill to the Government for review in the light of the educational plans and strategies being elaborated and a review was duly carried out.

191.On 16 March 1998, Decree No. 686 was promulgated to make primary education compulsory and free. It contained a single article, as follows:

"Article 49 of Legislative Decree No. 134/59 concerning the Ministry of Education shall be amended to read as follows:

“New article 49: Education shall be free and compulsory in the first primary stage and is a right of every Lebanese person of primary school age. The conditions for and organization of such free and compulsory education shall be determined by such decree as is adopted by the Council of Ministers.””

192.This law was simply a first step along the way to imposing compulsory basic education (to the age of 15 years) in accordance with the new structure. As the present time, education is compulsory at the first stage of basic education, known as primary education, and continues as previously designated (to the age of 12). This designated age, however, will be raised in due course when the new structure is in place.

193.Some matters are still undecided, such as the link between compulsory education (to the age of 12full years) and the minimum age at which a child can be employed (13 full years). The same law also stated the need to determine the regulatory and executive conditions for carrying compulsory education into effect, including measures to encourage families to keep their children in school until the age specified as compulsory (such as helping those in need, improving the quality of education, linking education to the job market and so on) and the imposition of fines or penalties on those who breach the law.

5.2Free education

194.In Lebanon, the interpretation of free education is extremely particular in view of the plural structure of its educational institutions. The activity of foreign missions in the field of education has already been mentioned and predated the establishment of the State of Greater Lebanon (1920) and national independence (1943) by many years. The Lebanese Constitution also provides for free education and for the right of confessional groups to establish their own educational institutions. In addition, the State plays a role by means of State education, which began expanding at the end of the 1950s.

195.The law also provides for free primary education by either of two methods: the first is through State schools and the second is through primary schools belonging to the private sector which receive financial support from the State through a budget allocation of the Ministry of Education for that purpose. Accordingly, the following types of educational institutions co-exist in the Lebanese education system:

(a)Official educational institutions: From kindergarten to university, these are State institutions which are free in principle (the pupil or student pays registration fees and sometimes other fees in addition).

(b)Private non-fee-paying institutions: These exist only at the primary stage. Set up by individuals or organizations, they are funded from the budget of the Ministry of Education on the basis of reports of the number of pupils registered in them. In these schools, the pupil pays registration fees and other miscellaneous costs which vary from school to school.

(c)Private fee-paying educational institutions: These cover all stages from kindergarten to university. Set up by individuals, organizations, confessional groups or foreign missions, the pupils or students in such institutions pay annual fees which are fixed by the administration concerned and vary from one institution to another. Extremely high standards are attained and they are regarded as elite schools and universities. The Government helps to meet part of the costs of education by awarding grants to civil and military employees in the public sector.

196.Free education is therefore provided mainly through State schools and through private non-fee-paying schools in the primary stage and only through State educational institutions in the other stages. The provision of free education is hindered by the varying standards of education in the three types of institution mentioned; following the years of war, this standard in State and private non-fee-paying education is generally lower than the standard in private fee-paying education. Families therefore make efforts to register their children in private education, which has the largest share of pupils in Lebanon; in the 1995/96 academic year, the figure stood at 56.1%, compared with 30.6% for State education and 13.4% for private non-fee-paying education.

Breakdown of pupils by education sector and stage

(per cent)

Education sector

Pre-primary

Primary

Intermediate

Secondary

Overall total

Government

17.1

29.0

39.7

41.6

30.6

Private non-fee-paying

16.5

22.2

-

-

13.4

Private fee-paying

66.4

48.7

60.3

58.4

56.1

Total

100

100

100

100

100

Source: Educational Centre for Research and Development, 1995/96.

197.It is clear from this table that the practical contribution of the government sector in ensuring opportunities for free education runs counter to the compulsory education imposed in the primary stage, as the share of the government sector increases in line with the educational stage and is at its lowest in the compulsory primary (and pre-primary) stage.

198.As for the cost of education, according to the study of household living conditions in 1997, the average estimated cost of schooling per child in Lebanon is 1,467 million Lebanese pounds. Education costs account for 13.1% of the monthly household expenditure and are the third most important item after food (33.9%) and accommodation and services (15.3%).

199.In actual fact, education is not free, even for families who register their children in State schools or in private non-fee-paying schools. The cost of education in these schools is much lower than in private fee-paying schools, where the amounts involved are high. Nevertheless, it is scarcely free of charge; the average cost per student in the different stages of State education is 421,000 Lebanese pounds annually.

Student cost in State and private education by stage and type of cost

(thousands of Lebanese pounds)

Educational stage

Government

Private

Other expenses

Amount

Total

Amount

Other expenses

Total

Pre-primary

142

144

287

1 299

298

1 597

Primary

160

111

271

942

381

1 323

Supplementary

222

134

356

1 101

465

1 566

Supplementary vocational

371

190

561

1 026

427

1 453

Secondary

317

180

497

1 442

560

1 779

Vocational secondary

515

254

769

1 194

585

4 289

University

633

218

851

3 250

1 039

4 289

Average

274

147

421

1 269

446

1 715

Source: Household living conditions in 1997.

5.3Availability of education for all

200.Universal education depends not only on the establishment of the principles of compulsory and free education, but also on the provision of a sufficient number of schools, school places and equipment, teaching staff, adequate geographical distribution, academic success and other matters relating to education services. It also depends on the practical attitude adopted by the family on the basis of its own education, its adherence to the law, its economic resources and the priority which it affords to children’s education in general or during specific periods of the family's economic cycle.

201.The above factors are important, as well as instrumental in the decision as to whether a child stays at school or leaves, either permanently in order to start work at an early age or temporarily in order to boost family productivity during agricultural seasons or in school holidays. In terms of supply and demand, the actual commitment to the pursuit of study is therefore measured by the school enrolment indicators, which give a true picture of the universality of education as a right or need for all, without exception.

202.According to the findings of the statistical Survey of Population and Housing, the situation in regard to the pursuit of study in the 0-17 age group is that 25,354 children between the ages of 6 and 18 never attended school, including 11,953 children between the ages of 6 and 11 who never attended primary school. All of these children are considered to be deprived of their right to education, which provides a realistic idea of the extent of this problem in Lebanon.

203.The war led to an overall deterioration in the standard of education in State schools in particular. The resolve of the Lebanese to send their children to school nevertheless remained undeterred, despite the difficult circumstances, and the quantitative indicators of basic education, particularly enrolment rates, therefore retained high levels. Moreover, these rates showed an improvement over the rates recorded in the 1970s, before the war, a phenomenon which should come under close examination and study.

204.According to the statistical Survey of Population and Housing, the gross school enrolment rates for the primary, intermediate and secondary stages stood at 97.3%, 87.7% and 57.6% respectively, thus indicating the high rates of school enrolment in the primary stage and the palpable school drop-out rates in the intermediate and secondary stages. The net school enrolment rates in the three stages stood at 82.7%, 63.2% and 35.5% respectively, thus indicating the high rates of pupils who are required to repeat an academic year in the different stages, particularly during the intermediate and secondary stages.

205.The gross enrolment rate in primary schools is almost 100% for males and 99.9% for females. Apart from the fact that there are more males than females in the primary stage (the cause of which should be investigated), there is no discrimination against females in school enrolment. On the contrary, the number of females surpasses that of males in the intermediate and secondary stages of education, which can be explained by the fact that males leave school at an early age in order to work, whereas females continue studying to a later age. It is therefore possible to say that, in theory, males and females generally have equal access to educational opportunities, although the poor linkage between education and the job market means that, in practice, education is an activity of little benefit in terms of financial reward. The resulting implication is that, for male children in families in need of additional resources, work takes precedence over study. Great reservation should therefore be exercised in interpreting the fact that females outnumber males in the school enrolment rates as a conscious situation resulting from the conviction in women's rights.

G ross and net enrolment rates by stage and sex

(per cent )

Stage

Primary

Intermediate

Secondary

Enrolment rate

Gross

Net

Gross

Net

Gross

Net

Males

99.9

83.4

82.8

60.1

55.8

34.0

Females

94.8

82.0

93.1

66.5

59.5

37.1

Both sexes

97.4

82.7

87.8

63.2

57.6

35.5

Source: Statistical Survey of Population and Housing, 1996.

5.4Equal educational opportunities

206.In common with all international conventions, the Convention on the Rights of the Child emphasizes fulfilment of the condition of equal opportunities for everyone in all fields, including education. In Lebanon, where the overall national rates of access to educational services are relatively high, the question of domestic variations in the educational sector is of more importance in identifying the areas of weakness to which attention should be devoted.

207.This section explores whether access to educational opportunities is equal or dissimilar on the basis of the following classifications: the equality (or disparity) between males and females, between geographical regions and between the different social groups of inhabitants.

5.4.1Equal educational opportunities for males and females

208.The findings of national surveys and the information held by the Ministry of Education and the Educational Centre for Research and Development consistently confirm that there is no negative discrimination against girls in regard to school enrolment. All the information indicates that not only are school enrolment rates virtually the same, but also that females outnumber males in terms of the absolute numbers of pupils, enrolment rates and the rates of pupils sitting and passing official examinations. The difference in favour of females is highest in the intermediate stage, followed by the secondary stage. This is explained by two factors:

(a)The first is a positive factor which indicates the general tendency in families to educate both their male and female children and avoid adopting an overly hostile attitude towards the education of girls, despite the stereotypical notion of family relationships which most heads of household continue to hold, particularly in remote areas of the country;

(b)The second is a negative factor which indicates the high school drop-out rate among males in the intermediate and secondary stages so that they can enter the job market. This is a situation which applies to males more than to females and points to a combination of elements at play, namely the vital need for resources, the lack of conviction in study as a valuable means of improving living standards and academic failure.

209.It is worth pointing out, however, that there is a connection between the preponderance of females over males and free education, as females outnumber males in State education in particular (and most of them are from low-income families). By contrast, there is a higher ratio of males to females in private fee-paying education (and the proportion of those from middle- and high-income families is appreciably higher than is the case in State education). This suggests that males take preference over females when the family has to pay fees to educate their children. The high cost of education and the diminishing role of the State school may therefore result in the practice of discrimination against females, as well as breaches of the principle of equal educational opportunities for both sexes. This is a drawback in the current structure of the educational sector.

210.This conclusion is supported by the anecdotal evidence of social workers in the governmental and non-governmental sectors, as increasing instances of families in need who show a preference for educating boys are being reported in connection with the considerable rise in education costs. Although these scattered instances are not yet manifested in any of the indicators or statistical data, the anecdotal evidence of social workers in the field always forms a kind of early-warning mechanism which should be taken very seriously.

Percentage of females in the different stages of education

by educational sector (1995/96)

State

Private non-fee-paying

Private fee-paying

Total

Pre-primary

49.8

47.9

47.6

48

Primary

49.9

48

47

48.1

Intermediate

57.5

-

49.4

52.6

Secondary

58.4

-

49.7

53.3

Total

53.3

48

48.1

49.7

Source: Educational Centre for Research and Development, 1995/96.

5.4.2Equal geographical opportunities

211.The regional variation shown in the indicators of development has, for decades, been a distinct feature of the pattern of Lebanese growth. Education-related indicators are just some of the many indicators of significant differences between central Lebanon, consisting of the governorates of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, and the other outlying governorates. These variations coincide with the division of these regions into rural and urban, notwithstanding the inaccuracy of such a division.

212.Generally speaking, the spread of the different types of educational institution varies according to region. Private fee-paying schools, particularly those offering a good quality education, are concentrated in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, whereas State schools are more widespread in the other governorates. On this score, however, the differences are diminishing, as private schools are expanding in the outlying regions and the demand for State schools to be opened in central Lebanon is increasing. The country's overall economic and social circumstances are therefore indivisible from some of the indicators of the improved performance of State education, as they are elemental in diminishing the differences in that regard.

213.There are also substantial regional disparities in the illiteracy and school enrolment rates, indicating a cumulative imbalance (illiteracy) and an actual imbalance (school enrolment) in the equality of opportunities among children as far as their right to education is concerned. The imbalance is therefore both social and regional at the same time. The difference in the illiteracy rate (aged 10 years and over) is approximately fourfold between Aley and Kasrawan (7.7% and 7.9%) and Akkar (30.5%), with even more acute differences in the case of female illiteracy. Similar but less acute differences are recorded in connection with school enrolment (the school enrolment rate for the 6-11 age group is lowest in Akkar, standing at 83.5%, and highest in Batrun, standing at 93.4%).

Illiteracy rate by sex and governorate

(aged 10 years and over) (per cent)

Males

Females

Both sexes

Beirut

6.2

12.2

9.3

Mount Lebanon

6.4

13.5

10.0

North

15.6

24.2

20.0

South

9.8

18.3

14.1

Bekaa

9.8

22.6

16.2

Nabatiyah

10.8

25.1

18.3

Lebanon

9.3

17.8

13.6

Source: Statistical Survey of Population and Housing, 1996.

5.4.3Equal opportunities among social groups

214.The regional disparity indicated in the above section is also a form of social disparity for reasons relating to the historical genesis of the Lebanese social make-up. This section, however, employs direct and indirect indicators to compare the imbalance in the equal opportunities available to children in Lebanon in connection with the right to education that is due to the social circumstances of the family to which they belong. Study and analysis of the educational data shows the following:

1.Choice of school

215.Families are influenced in the choice of the school to which they send their children by a number of factors, such as geographical proximity and religious or confessional affiliation. The main factor, however, is the availability of the financial resources needed to pay for the education. Analytical studies indicate that State schools are essentially attended by pupils from impoverished and low-income groups, whereas the other groups of inhabitants gradually progress in their choice of school to the point where their income level is associated with the fee level in the top schools. A field study conducted in 1996 showed that 62% of the pupils in primary schools are from the grass-roots groups (such as artisans and labourers), compared with 42% in private non-fee-paying schools, whereas pupils from the middle and upper groups (businesspersons, civil servants, white-collar workers and members of the liberal professions) make up 8% of the pupils in the State sector, compared with 30% of the pupils in the private non-fee-paying sector.

216.This difference in the type of school (State or private) produces tremendous inequality in regard to the opportunities available to the pupils from each. The elite private schools provide a better quality and standard of education and have facilities such as equipment, laboratories, up-to-date teaching materials, playgrounds and modern buildings. They also offer the opportunity to pursue cultural, sporting and art activities, as well as other prerogatives not available to pupils in State schools (other than in a few extremely rare cases). The different social origin of the child’s family results in the choice (or imposition) of different educational paths as far as the type of school selected is concerned, which is both a result and cause of the widening inequality of opportunity among children in connection with the enjoyment of their right to education.

2.Academic attainment

217.The aforementioned study also pointed to the disparity between groups in the results of the academic attainment of pupils, a difference of 18 percentage points having been recorded in the averages of successful pupils among children in the grass-roots groups on the one hand and the middle and upper groups on the other. The rates for pupils who are required to repeat an academic year also show a similar variation (of about 17 percentage points) between the two groups.

218.A similar study carried out by the Educational Centre for Research and Development showed that the overall attainment of pupils in the fourth primary class in State schools stands at 50.4%, compared with 64.8% in private non-fee-paying schools and 77.1% in private fee-paying schools. The same study found that the lowest levels of attainment occurred among the children of labourers and farmers, among families with a low educational attainment, as well as among children who travel long distances to school on foot (an indicator of the family’s social level) and children who started school after the age of six (or, in other words, who had not attended kindergarten).

3.Inequality in the pre-primary stage

219.The stage of kindergarten plays an extremely important role in the cognitive and mental development of a child during the first years of his life. The fact that the possibility of attending this stage is denied to children from the lower social groups, particularly those living in remote rural areas, is a major form of discrimination against them and ensures that they remain behind their more fortunate peers throughout their school lives.

220.Although academic places are available on principle to everyone from the primary stage through to university, irrespective of the quality of the education provided, it is not the case in practice in the kindergarten stage in the State sector, as there are not enough kindergartens to cater for all children. Here, the contribution of the government sector is at its lowest (17.1%), while the contribution of the private fee-paying sector is at its highest (66.4%).

Breakdown by stage and sector of education

Education sector

Pre-primary

Primary

Intermediate

Secondary

Overall total

State

17.1

29.0

39.7

41.6

30.6

Free private

16.5

22.2

-

-

13.4

Private fee-paying

66.4

48.7

60.3

58.4

56.1

Total

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

Source: Centre for Educational Research and Development, primary statistics, 1994/95.

221.A more detailed examination also shows that the main contribution of the government sector to pre-primary education is made through one class only, namely the second kindergarten, whereas its share of the total number of children is smaller in the first kindergarten and much smaller still in the nursery class. The reason for the substantial increase in number in the second kindergarten is that, in practice, it is the first preparatory class in primary schools and the two classes are actually combined (the preparatory class is included when determining the age group corresponding to the primary stage from ages 6 to 11).

Number of children in the years of the pre-primary stage by education sector

State

Private non-fee-paying

Private fee-paying

Total

Nursery

1 919

4 623

25 130

31 672

First kindergarten

9 648

10 039

40 103

59 790

Second kindergarten

16 318

12 153

42 884

71 355

Total

27 885

26 815

108 117

162 817

Source: Centre for Educational Research and Development, primary statistics, 1994/95.

4.Language of instruction

222.During the educational debate of the 1970s, the issue of the language of instruction was a basic focus of concern in that it is one of the most effective mechanisms for the social selection of pupils. Numerous studies have illustrated how the use of a foreign language (French or English) as the basic language of instruction for science and mathematics (in addition to the fact that the content of humanities subjects studied in a foreign language differs from the content of those studied in the Arabic language) constitutes a strong discriminatory mechanism against the majority of pupils enrolled in State schools in particular, whose social origins, as already stated, are well-known.

223.In the situation of Lebanon, the command of a foreign language is not simply a result of the educational process in schools. On the contrary, it is mainly the result of the family and social environment, which plays a decisive role in enabling the child to use a foreign language as a second or first language of conversation in the home and in the wider environment of relationships. The lack of such a possibility has a heavy and direct impact on academic attainment, on success or failure in school and on the vocational choices made after leaving school.

224.It has been empirically demonstrated that, in State schools, the level of attainment in the subject of French language at the primary stage is 32.1% compared with 56% in the subjects of Arabic language and proficiency, and 82% in science subjects, whereas the corresponding rates in private fee-paying schools are 94.6% for the French language, 82% for Arabic language and proficiency and 49.9% for science subjects. This variation persists throughout the different stages of general (and university) education, as the pass methods in the present State examination system mean that State schools pupils with limited foreign language skills rely on developing their skills in mathematics and science and only attempt to obtain the minimum marks required in the foreign language subject in order to avoid failing the State certificate. As a result, the competition in this field between pupils in the State and private sectors is also unequal.

5.5The problem of illiteracy

225.Illiteracy is the utmost form of denial of the right to education. Even though Lebanon is rated as one of the best Arab and developing countries in terms of its average reading and writing ability of its population, the problem of illiteracy is still experienced among the adult age groups in particular and less acutely so among children.

5.5.1The general framework of illiteracy

226.In 1996, there were approximately 344,392 illiterate persons in Lebanon, representing 13.6% of the total population, broken down among the different regions and age groups. The largest number of illiterate persons are in the governorate of the North, followed by the governorate of Mount Lebanon (specifically in the northern and southern suburbs of the capital). These individuals, if not children, are fathers and mothers of children. Emancipating them from illiteracy therefore helps to improve the level of the child’s family environment, particularly if the mothers are educated, which, as many studies have indicated, has a positive impact on a child's health, his attainment at school and his overall living conditions.

Breakdown of the numbers of illiterate persons by governorate

Illiterate males

Illiterate females

Total

Beirut

10 360

22 405

32 765

Mount Lebanon

30 143

65 322

95 465

North

39 966

63 901

103 868

South

10 611

20 609

31 220

Bekaa

15 730

35 770

51 500

Nabatiyah

8 303

21 272

29 575

Lebanon

115 113

229 279

344 392

Source: Statistical Survey of Population and Housing, 1996.

227.The breakdown of illiterate persons by age shows that the problem has started to diminish appreciably in recent years, despite the war which raged in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990 and despite its failure to thwart the resolve of the Lebanese to overcome the situation and continue sending their children to school. The following table shows that the problem is particularly concentrated in the adult age groups, with women in particular faring less well, whereas the overall illiteracy rates and differences between males and females in the younger age groups are small.

Illiteracy rates by sex and age group

Age group

Percentage of female illiteracy

Percentage of male illiteracy

10-14

2.2

2.0

15-19

3.6

3.6

20-24

4.8

4.1

25-29

7.0

4.6

30-34

8.5

5.5

35-39

11.5

5.8

40-44

16.8

6.9

45 and over

46.0

22.1

All groups

17.8

9.3

Source: Statistical Survey of Population and Housing, 1996.

5.5.2Illiteracy among children

228.The learning requirements of the present generation differ from those of the previous generations. Consequently, when used to gauge the standard of knowledge among the different generations, the concept of simple illiteracy (the inability to read and write) cushions the extent of the problem in the case of the current generation, which has greater demands imposed on it by modern-day life. Countries which have crossed the threshold to satisfy the most basic essentials of life now employ the concept of functional illiteracy, which assumes a knowledge of the basics needed for day-to-day living in the home and at work.

229.It would be more appropriate to employ the concept of functional illiteracy in modern-day Lebanon, which has made good strides forward in terms of the basic quantitative indicators of learning and in economic and social development. As this measure is unavailable, however, the indicator used is still that of simple illiteracy, or in other words, ignorance of the principles of reading and writing.

230.Returning to the phenomenon of illiteracy among children in Lebanon, it consists of three components, although there is some degree of latitude. These are illiterates in the 10-17 age group; semi-illiterates in the 10-17 age group who can read and write only; and children in the 6-9 age group who are not enrolled in school.

231.The total number of illiterate children (in the 10-17 age group) stands at 14,247, constituting 4.1% of the total number of illiterates in Lebanon, while the total number of semi-illiterates in the same age group stands at 16,904. In other words, a total of 13,151 children should be targeted by literacy programmes. The school enrolment status of some 11,184 children aged under 10 who are not enrolled in school should be followed up, as it constitutes a fairly substantial group in terms of numbers.

232.In addition, the breakdown of illiterate and semi-illiterate children by individual age and their proportions among all children of a specific age indicates that these proportions rise in line with age. Accordingly, whereas the proportion of illiterates and semi-illiterates is no more than 2.5% of the total number of children aged 10, their proportion is over 9% of the total number of children aged 16 and 17. It is also striking that the proportion of illiterates, as well as their absolute number, is greater than that of semi-illiterates aged between 10 and 12, whereas the situation is reversed in the case of those aged between 13 and 17. These are indicators of increasing rates of early drop-out from school (before completion of the primary stage).

Illiterate and semi-illiterate children

Age

Illiterate

Able to read and write

Percentage of illiterates

Percentage of semi-illiterates

Percentage of illiterates and semi-illiterates

10

1 122

517

1.7

0.8

2.0

11

1 036

714

1.6

1.1

2.7

12

1 600

1 165

2.4

1.8

4.2

13

1 629

1 753

2.5

2.7

5.1

14

1 901

2 572

2.8

2.8

6.6

15

1 995

2 974

3.1

4.6

7.6

16

2 553

2 759

3.8

5.8

9.6

17

2 411

3 349

3.8

5.3

9.1

10-17

14 247

16 904

2.7

3.2

5.9

Source: Statistical Survey of Population and Housing, 1996.

5.5.3Literacy programmes

233.Lebanon has taken no chronological measurements and uses standardized or similar methodologies that enable the decision-makers to monitor accurately the development of illiteracy and to forecast the trend in that development, having first redefined it in line with modern-day requirements, the country's needs and the expectations of inhabitants. The general conclusion to be drawn from the above discussion and from indicators calculated in different ways over different periods of time is that illiteracy is generally on the decline, although wide variations between different regions and social groups are also indicated. Consequently, and on the basis of various field observations, in the event that the current trends in the performance of the education system continue, in particular the high rates of school drop-out in favour of child employment, along with the high cost of education, especially private school fees, and the limited intake capacity of State schools, it can be predicted that the phenomenon of illiteracy and semi-illiteracy among children, both as an absolute number and as percentages of the overall age group, will worsen.

234.Steps are currently under way to improve the performance of the education system in order to avert this problem and even provide a radical solution (the promulgation of the Compulsory Education Act, the introduction of a new education structure, the renovation of State schools, the commitment to increase their share of total pupils and the adoption of a blueprint for schools). Generally speaking, however, the problem of illiteracy among children as it currently stands will not be automatically eliminated without effective programmed inputs. The non-governmental and government sectors are both helping to address this problem by means of literacy programmes targeted at children, particularly working children among whom there is a high rate of illiterates and semi-illiterates. The action taken, however, still fails to measure up to the true size of the problem.

235.In regard to the Higher Council for Childhood, on 19 January 1995, the Council of Ministers promulgated a decree establishing the National Committee for Literacy and Adult Education, with the Director-General of the Ministry of Social Affairs as its chairman and representatives of the different ministries and the non-governmental sector as its membership. This is undoubtedly a move in the right direction which emphasizes the responsibility shared by the Government and society in addressing a problem of this kind. Work, however, is still in its preparatory stages and the measures achieved remain extremely modest and include the following in particular:

-In 1995, a training course was run for 18 literacy teachers in conjunction with the American Children’s Relief Federation;

-In 1996, a course on functional literacy in the workplace was run for 36 illiterate children aged between 10 and 19 years who work in the furniture industry. This was a pilot course which formed part of the programme to educate young workers and was run in conjunction with the non-governmental organizations involved in civil work in the North, the trade union for owners of furniture and carpentry shops in Tripoli and the Friedrich Ebert Institution.

-In its programmes for the subsequent years, the Committee devoted attention to setting regional priorities for intervention in the most deprived districts and to running an instructor training programme. Service centres belonging to the Ministry of Social Affairs and non-governmental organizations are used to implement these programmes (and at the time of writing, literacy courses in the service centres belonging to the Ministry of Social Affairs in the different regions are being announced).

5.6The substance of education and teaching methods

236.The Convention on the Rights of the Child attaches great importance to the substance of the teaching process and its consistency with scientific development, human rights and the rights of the child. It also attaches importance to the administrative methods employed in educational institutions and to the relationships between the administration, the teacher and the pupil, as well as to the scope allowed for pupils to express their opinions and participate in school life. In the Convention on the Rights of the Child, these issues are covered under article 29, as well as under article 28.

Article 29

5.6.1Performance of the educational system and the new structure

237.Whereas the preceding sections deal with the quantitative aspects in regard to right of the child to education, the present sections deal with the quality of the education received by the child and the methods employed to that end. The education structure and curricula are now outmoded, dating back as they do to 1968 or to amendments adopted in 1971. Owing to the outbreak of war in Lebanon in 1975, these curricula continued to be used for 25 or 30 years during which tumultuous development occurred in the fields of science, technology and educational methods. As a result, the educational content clearly fell behind the times and failed to keep pace with the interests of pupils, to whom countless avenues of knowledge were opened up through the media, computers and the internet. Some private educational establishments kept a degree of pace with this development by adopting modern methods of education and up-to-date curricula. Education in general, however, particularly State education, remains conventional in both its content and its methods.

238.This situation is reflected in the performance of the education system, particularly in the academic failure rates, which range between 25 and 30%, and the rates of pupils who are required to repeat an academic year, which range between 33 and 66% of all pupils. It is also reflected in the high rate of drop-outs, which, in the early 1980s, stood at 240 drop-outs from the primary stage for every 1,000 pupils entering the first primary class, 247 from the intermediate stage and 223 from the secondary stage. Only 190 pupils therefore remained out of an original 1,000 in the third secondary class.

Rates of failure and pupils repeating an academic year in 1993/94

(per cent)

Education stage

Failure rate

Rate of pupils repeating an academic year

Primary

33

33

Intermediate

25

66

Secondary

25

66

Source: "The new structure of education in Lebanon", Educational Centre for

Research and Development.

239.In general, the current structure suffers from confusion as far as determining the stages of education is concerned, as well as from the imbalance between general and vocational education and from the failure to integrate the various stages and paths. The teaching materials are outdated and the teaching and assessment methods are conventional, as they focus on inculcation and dictation, thus precluding the pupil from participating in the learning process and in his wider environment. On the basis of this appraisal, principles were elaborated for the new structure of education, which endeavours to fill these gaps in order to ensure that pupils receive a varied education that is also modern in content. It also endeavours to ensure that the shift is made to modern educational methods which emphasize participation, creativity, a critical sense and an open attitude towards national and international cultures.

240.The new structure was approved in 1995 and it is now being implemented on a gradual basis. Its full implementation, however, is not expected for another three or four years. On the basis of its objectives and substance, this structure can be said to constitute a further step along the road to modernizing the education process in line with the needs of the country and its children and in conformity with articles 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Comparison of the main features of the current and new structures

Current structure

Proposed structure

Date of issue

1968 and 1971

1995

Overall goals and objectives

Has no overall goals, only an outline of particular goals for each educational stage.

Develops the personality of the Lebanese as an individual, As a fitting member of a free and democratic society and as a civil citizen who abides by the law;

Shows a commitment to national culture and the essential importance of an open attitude to international cultures;

Emphasizes the constitutional principles concerning the identity of Lebanon, its democratic system and the freedom of education, particularly the right of confessional groups to establish their own schools;

Emphasizes the sovereignty of the law, respect for individual and collective freedoms, participation in social and political action and continuous development of the curricula.

Educational content

Generally theoretical in nature (90% of the time in the primary stage);

Emphasizes the quantitative accumulation of information rather than a qualitative choice that is unsuited to the social needs of the individual and the employment market;

Fails to keep pace with scientific progress;

Lacks artistic, technical and aesthetic variety.

Maintains a balance between theoretical subjects and practical applications and the development of skills, knowledge and behaviour.

Teaching methods

Inculcation and dictation with the teacher as the focal point;

Individual working method and no attention paid to developing the skills of cooperation in a team.

Fosters the critical sense in pupils, as well as a spirit of initiative and innovation;

Trains the pupil to work as part of a team;

Educational methods

Mainly confined to the written word and excludes any sophisticated educational methods.

Updates school textbooks and employs modern teaching materials.

Assessment methods

Focuses on the learning and repetition of information with no practical or creative input;

Does not use modern scientific criteria;

Concern with official examinations is paramount.

Uses modern methods to assess the pupil and the teaching methods themselves;

Educational and vocational guidance

Unavailable in the curricula in the different stages of education.

Attention is devoted to educational guidance and vocational knowledge, particularly in the intermediate and secondary stages, in order to help the pupil to chose the overall educational or vocational path most suited to his interests and capabilities.

Variety of education

The education is lacking in variety. In particular, it does not cover occupational and vital needs (environment, skills, health education and so on), thus diminishing its effectiveness in practice.

The curricula is varied, either by opening up new specialist fields or by integrating different subjects in the curricula;

The subject of human rights in general and the rights of children and mothers in particular are added to the new educational curriculum.

Appropriateness and integration

The education lacks integration and is inappropriate, particularly in the secondary stage. It is ineffective as preparation for university or for admission to the job market.

New stages of education are proposed, as well as formal, informal, general and vocational specializations and paths, taking into account the requirements of integration and the possibility of moving naturally from one path to another.

Technology in education

There is virtually no familiarity with technology.

Subjects are added with a view to familiarizing pupils with the modern technologies in the new curricula.

School and the environment

The substance of the curricula and the environment of the pupil are split;

Schools are closed down and no advantage is taken of the potential which the surrounding environment offers for different activities to take place.

Emphasis is placed on modern-day curricula that harmonize with the environment;

Emphasis is placed on extra-curricular activities and on interaction with the social environment as part of the educational process in school.

Source: “The new structure of education in Lebanon”, Educational Centre for Research and Development.

5.6.2Modern administration and the participation of pupils in school life

241.In Lebanese schools, widely varying administration systems exist side by side, ranging from the authoritarian and patriarchal type of system where participation is virtually non-existent to the type of dialogue-based system which allows the pupils themselves to participate in certain aspects of the educational process.

242.In the State sector, the school administration is based on a hierarchy of administrative positions of authority, from the principal, to the administrator, to the class teacher to the pupil, who is at the lowest end of the scale. Administrative relationships in general are dominated by a traditional mentality which remains undiminished unless by the particular cultural background of the principal and the individual members of the teaching staff, as they can influence the way in which the school is run. Internal school rules make no provision for true forms of participation by pupils other than the system in secondary schools, adopted during the first half of the 1970s under the influence the growing student movement, whereby pupils are elected to student leagues. This system, however, came to a halt with the outbreak of war in 1975. The texts now in force are purely administrative in character and provide for the extremely limited participation of teachers and pupils in certain activities and committees. Generally speaking, however, these texts are not put into practice in schools. The internal rules in primary, intermediate and secondary schools provide for the establishment of three types of council (which exclude pupil participation), namely the council of teachers, the council of coordinators and the council for order and guidance. The latter is the only one of these councils to have its spheres of competence determined by regulation, whereas the text relating to the other two councils, and the parent council, is extremely general.

Articles of the internal regulations of primary, intermediate and secondary schools

Articles which motivate participation

C onventional administrative articles

Teachers of subjects which require practical explanation must accompany their pupils to the places which they wish to visit after obtaining the written consent of guardians a/;

School activity councils shall consist of teachers and pupils, and talented, skilled and competent individuals shall participate in them b/;

Pupils shall effectively participate in an extra-curricular activity a/;

The following committees shall be established in the school: the council of teachers, the council of coordinators, the council for order and guidance and the parent council a/ and b/;

It shall be prohibited for any person employed in education to dispense physical punishment to pupils or to discipline them through verbal abuse inimical to education and personal dignity a/ and b/.

The council of teachers shall convene once at the beginning of the year at the invitation of the principal or one-third of the teachers. The council of coordinators shall convene at the invitation of the principal or two coordinators a/ and b/;

Any parent council established shall comprise guardians of secondary school pupils in accordance with special regulations (the establishment of such a council is not obligatory) b/;

The instructions of the administration shall be applied in regard to orderliness and external form;

It shall be prohibited to:

-Disseminate among pupils the principles of party political organizations or to manifest party leanings in secondary schools;

- Participate in or incite demonstrations or strikes;

-Sell lottery tickets or tickets to events or carry and distribute leaflets, newspapers and magazines.

a/ From the internal regulations of secondary schools.

b/ From the internal regulations of primary and supplementary schools.

243.In addition, the internal school regulations contain no provisions governing cultural and art activities in schools. A substantial number of circulars and decrees are, however, promulgated in connection with these activities, such as the establishment of groups of national education scouts in State schools, the placement of school buildings at their disposal, including after official working hours, under the supervision of a school teacher, participation in cultural, art and sports competitions and so on. The performance of such activities in practice, however, is dependant on the satisfaction of various conditions, primarily that the school building should be equipped for the purpose in question and secondly that the school principal should demonstrate a willingness to embark on such activities. Accordingly, the situation in State schools varies widely in accordance with the willingness demonstrated by the administration.

Decree No. 33/M/97 promulgated by the Minister of Education on 10 April 1978

Article 1: All principals of State secondary, intermediate and primary schools shall be required to establish scout units in the various fields and branches of specialization of national education scouts and to facilitate the task of the negotiators.

Article 2: The necessary headquarters shall be provided for the scout unit, which must receive encouragement and material support from the school fund. School halls and playgrounds shall also be placed at the disposal of the unit, both during and outside official working hours, under the responsibility of the person leading the activity.

Circular No. 63 of 12 June 1997 promulgated by the Director of Secondary Education

IV. Having sought the views of the concerned members of the teaching staff, principals of secondary schools shall determine the extra-curricular activities which the person concerned should carry out during the non-contact hours to which he is entitled by law. In particular, such activities should enhance the method and standard of education, as well as help to ensure that secondary schools serve as centres where a wide range of educational, cultural and social activities take place (such as poetry and prose competitions, science , crafts and art exhibitions, plays and shows staged by dance troupes and by singing and recital groups).

244.The situation is frequently better in private schools, particularly where activities are concerned, as the school buildings are well equipped and the administrations tend to encourage different types of activity. It is more difficult and less acceptable, however, for the pupils to participate in the life of the school. The different levels of participation in private schools has not yet been explored, although in some cases there are indications of a high degree of participation, which has a positive impact on life in the school and on the pupils themselves. Examples include schools which organize annual elections for pupil representatives of each class who are authorized to sit on the form council, which discusses the academic progress of individuals pupils each term, as well as on the council of the institution itself, alongside the representatives of parents, teachers and the administration. The written regulations of such schools oblige the representatives to inform their fellow pupils of the progress of the discussions in the bodies in which they participate.

P ersonal account of Z iyad

(aged 15)

I went to two private schools and felt a big difference between them. In the school I’m at now, the pupils have some freedom and the administration allows them to participate in making decisions which affect pupils. At the beginning of each year, every class in the supplementary and secondary stages holds elections to choose two individuals to represent them on the form council, together with the principal, the stage officer and teachers. The council meets at the end of every term to discuss the position of each pupil, determine his marks and decide whether he has passed or failed and whether he should specialize in literature or science. The representatives tell us our assessment and marks, as well as any comments made by teachers about our individual work.

There was no similar kind of participation in the school I went to before. I was therefore surprised when I moved to my present school. Everything seemed different and I felt that I was treated as a thinking human being. My self-confidence grew much stronger and I learnt to take on responsibility and make my own decisions.

The school contract

P upil participation in the life of the institution

This participation is achieved directly by virtue of pupil attendance of the school and the type of relationships established between pupils and the school. It is also achieved indirectly through the pupil representatives, who have the right to take part in:

The class council;

The council of representatives;

The council and standing committees of the institution.

Representatives are to form the link between their fellow pupils and the school’s team of teachers. They must also take part in running the fund of the school’s social and educational association and state their views on all aspects of school life. In addition, they must inform their fellow pupils of any steps which they take while fulfilling their role as representatives.

A successful experiment: The health education programme in State schools

245.The programme comprises a number of components:

-Health education;

-Health services;

-Care of the school environment;

-Mobilizing the relationship with the family and civil society;

-Helping the pupil to acquire vital health knowledge, as well as healthy habits and behaviour, thus enabling him to improve his own standard of health, as well as that of his family, and become a messenger of health in his environment.

246.The programme is restricted to the primary stage. During the first and second years, the subjects are confined to personal hygiene, cleanliness of the environment, disease and accident prevention, first aid and basic daily habits. In the other three years of the primary stage, the subjects of mental skills development and relationships with others are added. The programme also includes the preparation and development of educational materials in the form of textbooks, exercise books and health files for each student, which the programme provides free of charge.

247.This programme made an important practical contribution to education and had a positive impact wherever it was implemented. In particular, it entailed:

(i)Introduction of the lively education method in schools as the most modern and effective means by which to convey information to pupils, ensure that they acquire positive attitudes and develop an appraisal method that it is not limited to the acquisition of information, but also takes note of the pupil’s conduct and behaviour.

(ii)The use of a variety of teaching materials and mediums of expression in which pupils can play a part (such as games, wall posters, puppetry, slide displays, television and video films, and three-dimensional design).

(iii)Extra-curricular health-related activities, such as hygiene campaigns inside and outside school, tree cultivation and paper recycling.

(iv)The organization of joint activities among a number of schools, including health fairs, plays, surveys on the harm of smoking and the publication of leaflets on the findings.

Where this programme was effectively applied, a general improvement was noticed in the health and educational behaviour of pupils. It also had a positive impact on the teachers responsible for the other classes. According to the assessment made by the health advisers, a positive and tangible change was observed in health-related behaviour and habits (general hygiene, improved class participation, more respect for school facilities) in about 68% of pupils, while teachers of other subjects observed a tangible change in 21% of their pupils.

248.This programme covered between 80 and 100% of primary school pupils, depending on the area and the year, and the responsiveness of administrations and the initiatives of coordinators and advisers played a major role in this regard. However, the weekly hour allocated to health education, was not included as an integral part of the curricula but remained optional, and some health advisers were reassigned to teach other subjects. This successful programme, which is consistent with contemporary educational methods and with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, has not yet been officially introduced and has been scaled down since 1995, even though that was the year in which the new educational structure was approved.

5.7Respect for cultural identity and national values and promotion of the values of tolerance and friendship

249.Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child emphasizes the freedom of education within the framework of national laws, together with the commitment that the substance of the educational process should help to promote the values of tolerance and eschew bigotry. It should also promote respect for national culture and world cultures, as well as tolerance and friendship between peoples, religions and ethnicities. These elements constitute the final outcome of the required educational process, which should combine the acquisition of knowledge with recognized human and moral values to serve as an indicator of advancement and progress.

250.The provisions of the new structure of education affirm the express commitment to these objectives, particularly since it must play its part in ensuring social cohesion and stability in a country ravaged by war for 16 years. One of the first essential tasks of the educational structure is to contribute to building a new generation that is more cooperative and embraces more unified concepts and values so that it may serve to guarantee the future national and social unity. As such, today’s generation of children is assured of a secure future in which, unlike their parents, they are not compelled to live in a society torn apart.

251In the face of this complex and difficult imperative, however, it still remains necessary to reach agreement on how to deal correctly with certain issues. Of these, the main two are as follows:

(a)The free education as practised in Lebanon divides the educational process from the kindergarten to secondary stages into parallel paths that rarely converge at any point. Schools therefore use different languages of instruction in addition to Arabic, as well as different curricula, textbooks and methods of study. At the end of the secondary stage, different examinations are taken in the private schools which are authorized to award foreign certificates (French, American and German) to pupils who pursue their studies in accordance with those curricula and who are not therefore required to sit the official secondary school certificate examination. These parallel paths also divide the awareness of the current generation of children and young persons, thus making it difficult to unify the concepts and values held by its members owing to the different cultural educations which they received at school.

(b)The choice of private school (representing 70% of pupils) is mainly dictated by the confessional group to which most of its pupils belong, particularly in the case of schools run by confessional groups, which, under the Constitution, are guaranteed near absolute freedom to establish their own schools. (To a lesser degree, some of the private schools which are not run by confessional groups have a distinct type of social and socio-cultural purity owing to the cost of their fees and the language of instruction which they use). In practice, the implication is that a child who embarks on a path by virtue of his affiliation with a private educational institution may spend his entire school life in one social, cultural and confessional climate without meeting, other than coincidentally, anyone belonging to the other social and confessional groups with whom they are supposed to interact in an unbigoted spirit of fraternity and tolerance. Instead, he is denied any experience of a shared existence throughout his school life.

252.The essential difficulty raised by this situation cannot be ignored, namely, to what extent can these principles be respected and maintained in practice unless a sophisticated State school, which constitutes the main forum for national interaction in a country such as Lebanon, plays a fundamental role?

CHAPTER VI

CHILD CULTURE, LEISURE AND PLAY TIME

6.1Introduction

253.The family and school play a fundamental, although not exclusive, role in the formation of a child’s personality. The child acquires a great deal of knowledge and a multitude of skills and behavioural patterns and also supplements his physical, mental and emotional growth through play, recreation and the wider social environment, particularly the media, which play a major role in forming his awareness from the days of early childhood, and one which grows increasingly significant in the older stages of childhood (adolescence and youth). Accordingly, articles 31 and 17 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child attach importance to these aspects in so far as they are fundamental rights which should be accessible to the child.

6.2Child culture and opportunities for play and leisure

254.This aspect of the rights of the child does not receive the same attention as the provision of essential services (such as education, basic public amenity services and so on). On the contrary, play, leisure and the development of the intellect, the senses and aestheticism are regarded as secondary issues compared with the provision of «essential» services for the child, which are narrowly defined and restricted to providing physical safety, family stability and biological needs. The underlying cause of this situation is not entirely attributable to the years of war, the priorities of which intruded into all fields, including matters relating to the rights of the child, since it was as a result of the war that priorities were altered and that fewer resources became available for ensuring a greater guarantee of the rights of the child. The war also prevented the ruling attitude towards the child and the rights of the child from developing at the same pace as the development taking place in this field on a global scale. A further aspect concerns the traditional and paternal nature of the prevailing relationships in Lebanon and of its social and economic options, as these produce priorities in which the child – in so far as he holds any opinion or right – takes secondary place, despite the care afforded to children as vulnerable human beings who should be protected.

255.This situation is reflected in the unavailability of accurate data on this aspect of the rights of the child, which is by and large unapparent in national studies and statistics. The studies undertaken by individuals and institutions in the non-governmental and private sector, however, throw sufficient light on the subject to make it possible to assess the shortcomings and identify the type and extent of problems in this sphere.

256.On that score, Lebanon is not much different from the rest of the Arab world, as indicated by a study conducted by the Arab Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization and entitled «Cultural development in the Arab Nation, 1981-1982». Having set forth the true situation in regard to cultural media and agencies, the study concluded that the means of cultural intervention in the Arab world remained traditional and classical in nature and that no attempts were made to diversify, innovate and benefit from modern foreign experiences. This conclusion is even more apt when applied to child culture, which is imparted through media such as books, toys, films, music and magazines. Access to this culture is regarded as as a cultural imperative of the future and as an educational and national imperative of today. This appraisal of the situation of child culture has not changed in any qualitative sense since the beginning of the 1980s and is an indicator of its stagnation. Moreover, the 1980s in Lebanon were a period of extremely violent war. It is therefore fully plausible that it should find itself lagging behind today in terms of its provision of cultural materials and toys for children.

6.3The children’s press

257.In Lebanon, a few attempts have been made to launch a serious child-targeted press offering a very different menu from the domestic and imported consumer magazines available. Children in Lebanon, for example, lack the benefit of any educational or cultural magazines which can provide a helping hand in the ordinary process of education in the manner of the cultural magazine for pupils in the primary and intermediate stages which was founded in 1941 and continued in publication until the war broke out in 1975.

258.The children’s press in Lebanon today is distinct in the sense that it is clearly dominated in both content and language by foreign magazines. Some of these magazines consist of cartoon story strips which have no educational dimension to them. These are the most widely available magazines in bookshops. By contrast, magazines with any cultural content are expensive and are also all foreign language publications. Consequently, they are inaccessible to all.

259.Serious attempts to rectify this failing have been made by the non-governmental sector and by international organizations, the most obvious example of the 1990s being the magazine Sawa, which provided educational content for children in a lively and attractive style. This magazine was part of the child-targeted programmes which received direct support from UNICEF. Some private and non-governmental organizations also issue children’s publications, such as the magazines Hazar and Samer. These endeavours, however, have failed to achieve the necessary growth in numbers or among different audiences.

Comprehensive list of the children’s magazines published in Beirut

and registered with the Press Union

Name of magazine

Date of publication

Founder

Rawda al-Ma’aref

1908

Abd Al-Rahman Salam

Al-Ustaz

1910

Nazih Dawud

Al-Thamara

1914

Nicola Bashara

Mawrid al-Ahdath

1923

Amina Al-Khuri Muqadasi

Al-Talib

1923

Yahya Al-Lababidi

Samir al-Sughar

1925

Julia Ta’mah Dimashqiya

Al-Zanbaqa

1929

Elias Hatum

Rawda al-Awlad

1932

Anis Fakhuri

Al-Thaqafa

1941

Adib Yusif Sadir

Akhbar al-Mujtama’ wal-Tulab

1948

Mikhail Najib Ziyadah

Al-Madrasa al-Haditha

1955

Fuad Al-Bubu

Al-Tulab

1955

Wajih Al-Nu’mani

Zarzur

1956

Yahya Hassan Al-Khalil

Risala al-Tarbiya

1959

Omar Anis Al-Tabba’

Al-Talib al-Arabi al-Musawwir

1960

Majid Tawfiq Al-Hamwi

Basat al-Rih

1962

Zuhair Al-Balbaaki

Al-Mughamir

1964

Zuhair Al-Balbaaki

Dunya al-Ahdath

1964

Lauren Shaqir Rihani

Al-Fursan

1964

Lauren Shaqir Rihani

S uperman

1964

Illustrated Publications

Al-Barq

1964

Illustrated Publications

Al-Witwat

1964

Illustrated Publications

Lulu al-Saghira

1966

Illustrated Publications

T arzan

1966

Illustrated Publications

Tabbush

1966

Illustrated Publications

Sindbad

1966

Illustrated Publications

Dunya al-Abtal

1966

Salim Al-Jisr

Al-Sinnara

1967

Raymond Qawwas

Al-Shatir Hassan

1972

Abd All-Ghani Marwah

Adib wa Salwa

1973

Jibran Mas’ud

Ashbal al-Ghaba

1975

Illustrated Publications

Ayyub al-Mawhub

1975

Illustrated Publications

Al-Umlaq

1975

Illustrated Publications

Al-Fada’

1975

Illustrated Publications

B onanza

1977

Illustrated Publications

Samer

1979

Walid Al-Hussaini

Ayyub al-Mawhub

1981

Dar al-Badi’

Al-Muthaqqaf

1982

Imad Akkawi

Ahmad

1986

Dar al-Malak Publishing

Hazar

1989

Arin Graphics

Sawa

1989

UNICEF

S ally

1989

Ain Graphics

M icro

1990

Nabil Tabbarah

Al-Ma’rifa

1991

Munif Al-Khatib

Flash (in French)

1975

Renée Najjar

Stix (in French)

1989

Renée Najjar

Chtok (in French)

1991

Malik Gharib

Ahmad (in English)

1991

Dar al-Hada’iq

260.Only seven of these magazines are still in publication. In addition to these, countless foreign magazines of various types are sold on the Lebanese market.

6.4Children and television

261.Television is the main form of relaxation and entertainment for children in view of the small number and high cost of the activities and venues which cater specifically for children, as a result of which they spend most of their leisure time at home. The small screen has therefore come to be the main source of relaxation, entertainment and information, if that is the correct term. All stations have the same time slot for children’s programmes, which run between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., although most children aged over six watch television until 9 p.m. or later, in which case adults usually join in watching with them.

6.4.1Programmes transmitted during the children’s time slot

262.Three categories of programme are screened during the children’s time slot:

(a)Locally produced children’s programmes;

(b)Cartoon films;

(c)Arab and foreign films.

(a)Locally produced children’s programmes

263.Each licensed television station produces its own children’s programmes locally, as follows:

-Safina Nuh, Future Television, sponsored by Nestlé, a variety programme with different segments, including song and dance, which is presented by a team of young adolescents;

-Abqar, Future Television, a knowledge contest programme in which top school pupils answer questions in Arabic, French and English;

-Al-Tahadi Al-Kabir, Télé-Liban (TL), a knowledge contest programme in which teams of pupils from different schools compete for their school, responding to questions in Arabic, French and English;

-Kayf wa Laysh, Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC), a variety programme presented by various adults and a regular cast of puppet characters;

-Mini-studio, MTV, a variety programme presented by various adults and a regular cast of puppet characters and sponsored by Chopa Chops (a foreign confectionery company);

-Al-Manar al-Saghir, Manar Television, a variety programme presented by various adults and a regular cast of puppet characters.

264.The stations also transmit other local programmes, but they are not as prominent as the above-mentioned programmes, which give the television station a distinct image in terms of its approach towards children.

(b)Cartoon films

265.In general, these are similar on all the stations and are mostly produced by Disney and other foreign companies (particularly Japanese companies in more recent times). Also included under this heading are puppet shows such as Sesame Street, the Muppet Show and other foreign productions.

(c)Films

266.Most of these are foreign (United States) films for the family or children and include animated cartoon films. This time slot also has its share of variety and song programmes (Video Clip), as well as documentaries, comedy programmes (Half an Hour) and Arab and foreign films.

267.The above-mentioned programmes are not supervised at any level for educational or academic content and there is no evidence of any audio-visual aesthetic sense. On the contrary, such programmes are market-driven, which is to their detriment. Successful programmes are those which attract the largest number of advertisements. No effort is made to develop their content and no consideration is given to the views of children, who consequently turn to adult programmes and time slots in order to seek out alternatives to the programmes which cater for them specifically.

268.The children’s programme slot is interspersed with a barrage of commercial and consumer advertisements which are often heavily repeated, in addition to programmes which are basically sponsored by producers of children’s consumer goods, such as toys, snacks and so on. Moreover, the direct use of children themselves to promote consumer advertising can be regarded as a violation of their rights. In fact, some programmes are virtually nothing more than blatant promotion vehicles for the sponsoring product and the different programme segments simply act as padding between one advertisement and another. In addition, children’s talent programmes sometimes give free rein to talented individuals in a manner which is both ill-considered and exploitative. The Lebanese public has known more than one instance where a talented child has been turned into a miniature adult who is deprived of his childhood and heavily exploited in the name of childhood.

Quota of children’s programmes in the total number of weekly transmission hours

on local television stations* (per cent)

Name of station

Number of weekly transmission hours

Number of children’s programme hours

Percentage of children’s programmes

LBC

133

10

7.5

TL

126

6.3

5.0

Future

168

8.5

5.1

MTV

128

20.3

15.8

Manar

84

7.5

8.9

L umiere

111

11.3

10.2

NBN

73

7

9.6

*Approximate percentages based on details of the programme networks published in the newspapers.

269.These programmes set little store by the mental ability which children have and address them using vocabulary and language which are out of line with modern ideas in education and which make no contribution to furthering their knowledge or developing their aesthetic sense. As a result, children are obliged to move on to watching adult programmes. This is a widespread global phenomenon and there are no broad sample measurements to enable an assessment of its prevalence in Lebanon. It can, however, be monitored through direct observation or by means of set questionnaires and surveys.

270.A study carried out by three students at the Faculty of Education that included a sample of 110 pupils in the fifth primary school form in schools in Beirut showed that 62% of young girls and 75% of young boys spend three hours or more a day in front of the television. It also showed that children’s television programmes were watched by only 3% of males and 4% of females. In addition, of five programmes watched, only girls cited the Disney cartoon, whereas the other four programmes, along with the fifth programme cited by young boys, were adult programmes. This observation constitutes the very essence of the fundamental conclusion drawn by the study, namely that children watch most adult programmes, in particular local light comedy programmes and foreign programmes.

Percentage of programmes watched by children (males and females)

Programmes

Percentage watched by boys

Percentage watched by girls

Animations

18

18

Light entertainment

4

2

Light comedy

15

16

Foreign serials

14

13

Children’s programmes

3

4

Foreign films

10

8

Mexican serials

8

10

Video clips

8

8

Arab serials

8

11

Science documentaries

8

5

Arab films

5

5

Source: «Television and its impact on children», 1997.

6.5Children’s theatre

271.The experience of children’s theatre in Lebanon bears more than one positive sign which rises above the commercial element which frequently infiltrates this field, although it has not yet taken it over completely. A leading figure in puppet theatre is Joseph Fakhuri, who, during the 1960s, staged theatre pieces and presented much loved television characters in works of his own that were educational in content. Since the early 1970s, and even during the period of war, particularly when it stepped up during the 1980s, more than one group was active in forming children’s theatre troupes which still active today. Some of these troupes were set up on the initiative of graduates from national and foreign art institutes and received support from official and international institutions, while others managed by establishing a direct link with the private sector or by obtaining sponsorship and backing from the visual media, which turned some of their children’s programmes and personalities into works of theatre. The artistic standard and content has remained excellent in some of these works, while others are driven purely by advertising and commercial interests.

272.The main working troupes include:

Beginning in the mid-1970s: the Sanabil troupe and the Farja Fund troupe (which used shadow play and other techniques and are still continuing);

In the 1980s: the Lebanese Puppet Troupe, the Arab Cultural Club Troupe (a children’s troupe) and Paul Matar;

In the 1990s: The Lebanese Puppet Theatre and the Odeon Children’s Theatre;

In the 1980s and 1990s: Television dramas, such as Didi, Mini Studio and so on.

Children’s plays are also staged by non-specialist troupes consisting of either professional or amateur performers.

273.Some of these plays have good artistic form and content, and others even tackle head on the task of disseminating the notion of the rights of the child through theatre.

Experience of the touring theatre in the south following the aggression of 1976

Personal accounts

The children in over 7% of villages had never seen any theatre performances. Our performances were staged in varying circumstances:

In sun-exposed playgrounds or in village squares: 19 performances;

In wide alleys or on broad terraces: 12 performances;

In schools with covered winter playgrounds: 30 performances;

In new schools with enclosed halls: 24 performances;

One performance was staged in the building workshop of a village school.

The most successful performances were staged in the areas adjoining the border strip and in the villages most affected by the massacres. A kind of numbness tinged with great joy and delight was palpable in the hall at the end of the show, as the children waited silently for encores. This was particularly true in Yahmur al-Shaqif, which is, to all intents and purposes, isolated from the liberated areas by an Israeli road block that is sometimes erected at the village entrance, and in the village of Sadiqin, which had 12 of its school pupils killed the Qana massacre.

We staged a performance in the village of Saghbin. The lefthand side was predominantly grey, which is the colour of the pinafore uniform worn by the pupils of Sahmur school in the Bekaa, which comes under constant shelling. On the righthand side were the children from Saghbin, dressed in their colourful clothing.

Before the show had even begun, the children from Saghbin were laughing and applauding in a show of excitement. Familiar with the rules of the game, this was obviously not the first time in their lives that they had attended a performance. The children from Sahmur came in and sat down quietly and began following the performance in an astounded silence.

At the start of the first half of the performance and during the comedy scenes, laughter rose from the righthand side only and when someone was invited to speak, there was a scramble for the stage from that quarter. By contrast, none of the children from Sahmur made any moves.

No more than 20 minutes later, the children from Sahmur could be heard laughing and applauding and they soon began commenting on the events. When we invited the children to help us clean up the village, two or three children from Sahmur came forward.

In the second half of the performance, the children from Saghbin reacted in the same way as those from Sahmur. At the end, when we invited all the children to rebuild the village, the stage was inundated by grey pinafores. The play had succeeded in melting the ice and created great interaction between the children who attended.

274.Children’s theatre is relatively widespread, having reached tens of thousands of children through performances staged in theatres or in schools, something which has turned into an annual event during recent years. Children’s theatre also took significant steps to move from the towns into rural areas and helped in entertaining children in a country where there are few opportunities of that ilk. The comments reported by a good many social workers and teachers highlighted the great interest in both real theatre and the puppet theatre, which established its viability as an effective educational method, particularly in plays where the actor and the child audience interact to decide jointly on the course of the play and find solutions to the problems posed in it.

6.6Children and opportunities for play and recreation

275.Public areas and green spaces in particular are few and far between in Lebanese towns, whereas in the villages they are confined to the natural environment of fields, orchards and woodlands. In the towns, this situation is due to the desire to profit from real estate in view of the high prices involved and to the fact that there are no municipal authorities currently engaged in creating public parks, playgrounds or recreation for children (or for adults). The exceptions to this rule are few and they vary in nature according to whoever is taking the initiative.

6.6.1Children’s play opportunities through the private sector

276.The Lebanese private sector is known to be highly active and enterprising in responding quickly to local needs, even though it does so on the basis of its own outlook, which does not always take account of cultural and educational conditions that may be inconsistent with reaping the highest possible profit. In view of the lack of public spaces and opportunities for play and recreational pursuits by children (and implicitly, as is well known, adolescents and young persons), the private sector took the lead on more than one level to meet this need by means of the following:

Initiatives aimed at particular groups through the establishment of sports and recreation clubs and complexes which are either independent or form part of the many tourist resorts dotted about the mountains and along the coast. Such facilities offer members, and consequently their children, a variety of opportunities to pursue different types of sporting, cultural and recreational hobbies and pastimes. The low-income groups from the general public are unable to benefit from these facilities, some of which are exclusive to members, while others are partially open to the public. The cost and terms of membership and use of these facilities also varies.

Children’s amusement arcades and ride parks, in addition to a recent influx of circus troupes which come from all over the world to perform shows in Lebanon. These opportunities are available to the general public in return for an entrance fee, which may vary in price, in addition to a charge for rides. All children have access to these opportunities on the basis of their geographical proximity to such facilities and their income level. Although it should be pointed out that the cost is now lower than in the past, it is also worth noting that the quality of the rides on offer and the degree of safety of the different pieces of equipment varies widely. Rides, including those which are dangerous, are not monitored for safety, as a result of which accidents may occur and children may be liable to injury.

The games arcades owned by the private sector and dotted around every district are accessible to children from the low-income groups, including child workers. These children congregate in places where billiards, pinball games and electronic games are played. For the most part, these are small or medium-size premises which are crammed full of adolescents and youths, as well as even younger children, who go there to pass their free time.

Children’s toys and games, which also constitute an area of commercial and industrial activity for the private sector, representing profitable commodities that are mostly imported. The toys and games available on the local market vary in type from good quality educational toys and games, which are the least commonly available (and which are frequently too costly or overpriced for families with limited incomes) and poor quality toys and games which are readily available to groups of different ages and income levels. The latter type are the most common. Some toys and games, ranging from cheap and simple imitation weapons to sophisticated electronic war games, are detrimental from the educational point of view or promote competitive values whereby one’s «opponent» is brought to economic ruin (as in the game of Monopoly). Such is the overriding context, although the private sector has made some effort to transcend above it and escape the pure business rationale, as in the case of Khalid al-Jabar Toys, which produced a series of assembly toys currently sold out on the market, and in those of Adib and Salwa (two pre-war experiments), Dar al-Shamal in the 1970s (a simple games series teaching letters and numbers) and the Tala Corporation, which started in 1985 and produces various types of educational toys designed under expert supervision and intended to satisfy present needs, the games Mishwar fi lubnan and Haqqi + huguqi, which are intended to familiarize children (aged 10) with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Umayma: Personal account of a State primary school teacher

One feast…. and another feast

It was the first few days of the feast and the town streets were full of children. At the southern end of the town, a giant fairground had been erected for the first time ever: multi-coloured shining lights, a big wheel, all manner of aeroplanes and cars, a large skating path and so on.

Khidr, who was 12 years old, stood outside it in awe and dreaming of entering, which demanded a few thousand Lebanese pounds that he didn’t have. So he went back to the old abandoned fairground nearby: a modest wheel, swings, licorice sherbet and ordinary neon lights covered with green and red paper. The feast over, Khidr returned to school and got up to tell me on behalf of all of his classmates:

«You wouldn’t believe it, miss! That fairground is so wonderful, but you have to pay an entrance fee of LL 5,000 and LL 2,000 more per ride. So, if my friends and I had gone there, we’d have been broke. So what were we to do? We went instead to the old fairground, paid LL 1,000 and went on all the rides we wanted.»

So, instead of just one feast in town, there were two!

6.6.2Chjldren’s play opportunities through the public sector

277.Children have opportunities of play which are free or virtually free of charge through the following public means:

-Public parks in towns and municipal areas. These are, however, limited in number, small in size and not usually equipped with children’s amusements or have only modest amounts of equipment. Moreover, little interest is shown in renovating these parks and creating new ones. The largest park, located in the Sana’i area of the capital, is very often closed. It has no equipment in it and is situated in an overcrowded area in the vicinity of government buildings. Most urban parks suffer problems of size and location (Tripoli park is situated in the midst of a crowded area known for its traffic jams, polluted air and noise; the Aysha Bakkar park, which is a few hundred square metres in area, runs alongside the public highway; and the so-called children’s park in the town of Jubayl has amusements in the areas between the bridge over the international highway, which is an extremely noisy and dangerous spot). In a nutshell, there are no public parks in the true sense of the word in the centre of towns and large municipal areas.

-The potential use of school facilities for extra-curricular and scouts activities, which is variable depending on the endeavour of the school staff or scouts associations, particularly the national education scouts, and on whether the school has playgrounds and equipment. In general, however, State schools form a network of buildings and equipment dispersed throughout all regions and regarded as tantamount to an infrastructure for children’s recreational activities that is underused.

-Sports activities and teams, an area in which official interest is starting to emerge at the central government and municipal levels, as evidenced by the priority given to reconstructing the sports village and repairing a number of municipal playgrounds in Beirut, Burj Hamud, Tripoli and elsewhere. A government plan is gradually being implemented with a view to increasing interest in sport and promoting municipal playgrounds in town and municipal areas so as to encourage the establishment of sports teams in the towns and districts. The attention devoted to sports in schools has grown appreciably, as demonstrated by the fact that large numbers of pupils are accepted on training courses for sports teachers, which were reintroduced in order to produce sports teachers for State schools.

-Children’s summer schools and voluntary camps, which are discussed in the next section, and in which the governmental and non-governmental sectors each play a part.

6.6.3Summer camps

278.Children’s summer schools, camps and similar activities constituted the most widespread and most significant activity for children in Lebanon. This activity was launched under its major new guise during the war years, offering thousands of children a wide peaceful space and the chance to stay far away from the war atmosphere. These activities took the following forms:

-Children’s summer schools, which are camps that are usually organized for periods of 10 or 15 days, interspersed with educational and recreational activities, local outings and so on. The ages of the children taking part range from 7 to 12 years. The camps are supervised by a team of instructors and activity leaders.

-Day clubs, consisting of the same type of activities organized during daytime hours, after which the children return home.

-Voluntary youth work camps, which take volunteers from the ages of 16 or 17. These camps run cultural and recreational activities and local outings and are also involved in implementing a development project in conjunction with local inhabitants.

279.The new phase of this type of activity during the war years triggered the vital role of the non-governmental sector, which receives substantial support in this connection from international organizations, particularly UNICEF, for training activity leaders and instructors, preparing materials and programmes and so on. There is also effective participation on the part of several ministries and government agencies, such as: the Ministry of Social Affairs, which, on an annual basis, organizes a number of voluntary work camps interspersed with daytime activities for children on an everyday basis; the General Directorate of Youth and Sport (Ministry of Education), which organizes children’s summer schools and training camps; the Lebanese Army (which runs summer schools for the children of soldiers); and the Ministry for the Affairs of Displaced Persons (which organizes camps and summer schools in the repatriation areas).

280.These activities are now an annual tradition; scores of camps are organized and thousands of children and young persons throughout the whole of Lebanon take part in enterprising initiatives which do not often lend themselves to statistics. Hundreds of activity leaders and instructors trained over the previous decade are scattered throughout the clubs and villages and organize beneficial activities for children, using mostly local resources.

281.These activities fulfilled a number of sensitive social and educational functions:

-They were a haven of peace and escape from the surroundings of war during the years of armed conflict;

-They were a place for meeting and getting to know others from different regions and confessional groups, thereby representing a significant juncture for a generation which had not had the opportunity to get to know and mix with others. This was an important function, particularly when military activities ceased and the different regions opened up to each other;

-As ever now, they provided a rich educational and cultural experience which promotes the idea of development, tolerance, respect for the environment and participation and which is currently the most important function.

282.There are noteworthy gaps, however, including in particular the following two points:

(a)The adolescent group between 12 and 15 years of age were excluded from this activity, as the programmes were either designed for children between 7 and 12 years of age or for young persons aged 16 and over.

(b)There is a danger of these activities being turned into a sort of traditional activity which gradually becomes devoid of any content, as the surge of camps does not always go hand in hand with new programmes or conform to needs. In addition, there is no coordination or integration among the various parties responsible for their organization.

CHAPTER VII

THE HEALTH STATUS OF CHILDREN IN LEBANON

7.1Introduction

283.The right of children to health is an obvious fundamental right at both international and national levels. The Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates this right and sets out in detail the basic indicators by which it is possible to evaluate the progress achieved in adhering to the commitments contained in article 24 of the Convention. Commitments at the national level are therefore borne by Government, together with the non-governmental and private sectors. The international community also has commitments in this respect, as stipulated in article 24, paragraph 4, which refers in particular to the requirement to take account of the needs of developing countries.

7.2General framework

284.The rights stipulated in article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child can be achieved only within the broadest framework of the health policy and the characteristics peculiar to the health sector in the country in question. This does not exclude the possibility of singling out children for special care by means of special programmes, which, in any event, is both feasible and essential. The long-term health status of children, however, is generally dependant on the overall health status and on the philosophy and characteristics of the approved health policy and the means and resources available to implement it.

285.On this score, the health status of the population in Lebanon has noticeably improved due to the combination of factors which, during recent decades, have accumulated to produce a positive impact, starting with the good economic growth patterns of the 1950s, through to the social policies adopted and the health and insurance systems established during the Shihab era, their subsequent development and the vital input of the non-governmental and private sectors in providing health care services.

286.The overall effect was evident in the increase in life expectancy at birth, in the reduction of child mortality and in other positive indicators. This accumulation has formed a reservoir and established a forward trend that was not adversely affected to any great degree by the war, despite the material, human and institutional losses thus caused. This is attributable to the culture of self-reliance, with particular reference to the initiatives of the non-governmental sector, and to the fact that the private sector continued to play a major and active role in the health field. Other attributable factors are foreign assistance, the activity of international institutions and the adaptation of government health policies to the demands of war and emergency situations.

287.As to the pattern of disease in Lebanon, it now resembles the pattern in the industrial societies in the sense that non-contagious diseases are now more significant as the primary cause of adult death. Contagious diseases, however, are still significant, even though they are now better controlled than before, particularly in the case of children's infectious diseases, and even though the incidence of severe diarrhoea and acute viral respiratory diseases continues to spread.

288.The health sector in Lebanon also suffers from a number of structural and functional deficiencies which have an adverse effect on its performance and also have particular implications for the health status of children. The main deficiencies are:

-The role of the public sector has diminished considerably in favour of the private sector in regard to treatment and clinical medicine and in favour of the non-governmental sector in regard to infirmaries, primary care and prevention;

-Planning is absent and health service costs have risen substantially;

-The therapeutic aspect prevails over the preventive aspect;

-There is a preponderance of specialist doctors compared to general and family health practitioners and a shortage in the number of nurses and medical auxiliaries;

-There are numerous different insurance schemes which fail to provide full coverage, despite the substantial spending on health;

-Citizens pay a large share of the health bill, sometimes amounting to twice the amount paid by the public sector;

-There are regional and social disparities in the provision and quality of health services;

-The drugs market is chaotic, poorly controlled and badly coordinated, as is the pricing of health services.

289.These deficiencies have adverse repercussions on the health status of citizens in general and children in particular. The high cost of health care and the failure of the insurance schemes to provide full coverage precludes all families in practice from the enjoyment of good health services on an equal basis. In addition, the predominance of therapy over prevention and of therapeutic services over primary health care is less appropriate to the needs of children, whose requirement for protection, nutrition and a healthy environment and habits that favour their development is greater than their requirement to be treated for diseases following their contraction.

290.Attention should be drawn, however, to the fact that the basic indicators of child health have appreciably improved, primarily owing to the success of the special national programmes targeted at children, particularly those in the early stage of childhood.

7.3Basic indicators of child health

7.3.1Overview of the health status of children

291.Children (especially those in the early stage of childhood) are susceptible to seasonal illnesses which are similar in terms of both their incidence throughout the different regions and their annual recurrence. The most common are respiratory diseases in the autumn and winter, tonsillitis and ear infections in the spring, and diarrhoea and diseases of the digestive tract in the summer. Poliomyelitis, tetanus and diphtheria, on the other hand, now rarely occur, with only a few isolated cases reported in hospitals and clinics during the past 10 years.

292.On the other hand, the recorded incidence of some of the above diseases, such as diarrhoea, has increased in recent years, rather than declined. On the basis of personal accounts and medical experience, the following two developments have been recorded during the past five years. The first is that the “season” for acute diarrhoea and diseases of the digestive tract used to last for about two months (July and August in particular), whereas widespread cases are now reportedly starting to occur in May or June and continue until September. The second development is that the number of children affected increases year upon year, as does the percentage of those among them who require hospital treatment. Doctors are unanimously agreed that such cases are mainly caused by contamination, particularly of drinking water, which is becoming a real problem that poses a threat to the health of both children and adults.

293.Furthermore, a large percentage of children who attend doctors' clinics and hospitals noticeably suffer from different forms of malnutrition, which can be detected by low weight, poor stature, various digestive disturbances, anaemia and other symptoms. The problem is not usually insufficient quantity of food, but relates more to food type and variety. On the basis of the field experience of pediatricians, the prevailing nutritional habits pose a real problem, particularly where infants are concerned. The first year of a child’s life, for instance, may have the greatest impact on physical health; during that year, the structure of a child's organs and main functions is completed and growth occurs at an extremely rapid pace that is not repeated during the following years. This implies a need to raise awareness among adults, particularly those who are parents, of how to nourish their children adequately and ensure the material means to achieve that end.

294.The problems of environmental pollution and nutritional habits are among the priorities which, if addressed, help to protect children from disease and to increase their immunity and potential enjoyment of lifelong good health.

7.3.2Child mortality

295.A noticeable improvement has been recorded in the health status of children in Lebanon; over the past decade, the infant mortality rate fell by 30% and the under-fives mortality rate by 20%. A detailed breakdown of child mortality shows that there is a high likelihood of death during the first 28 days following birth, as the mortality rate among newborns stood at 20.3 per thousand in 1996, whereas the mortality rate among non-newborns (aged from 4 weeks to one year) was 7.1 per thousand. The main health problems are lack of antenatal health care, the quality of such care, an increase in the number of congenital and genetic diseases, particularly as a result of consanguineous marriage, and the substantial likelihood that a newborn infant may contract disease owing to lack of adequate health conditions.

Infant and child mortality rates for the periods 1987-1991 and 1992-1996

(per thousand live births)

Group

Rate per thousand live births

1987-1991

1992-1996

Newborn (under 28 days)

29.3

20.3

Non-newborn (28 days to one year)

9.6

7.6

Infant mortality (under one year)

38.9

27.9

Child mortality (1-5 years)

1.8

4.4

Child mortality (under five years)

40.6

32.2

Source: Lebanese survey of maternal and child health, 1996.

296.It can be seen from the table that the mortality rate among infants (aged under one year) fell by 11 percentage points and among children (aged under five years) by over 8 percentage points between the two time periods concerned.

297.The national rates, however, conceal regional and social variations as the rates clearly differ according to governorate; the infant mortality rate was 48.1 per thousand in the North and 39.8 per thousand in the Bekaa, compared with 19.6 per thousand in Beirut. The mortality rate among the under-fives is also at its highest in the North and at its lowest in Beirut.

Infant and child mortality rate by governorate

(per thousand live births)

Mortality among newborns (aged under one month)

Mortality among infants (aged under one year)

Mortality among children (aged under five years)

Beirut

17.5

19.6

19.6

Mount Lebanon

21.6

27.6

30.6

North

32.7

48.1

53.7

Bekaa

32.2

39.8

39.8

South

16.4

27.2

32.3

Nabatiyah *

-

-

-

Total per thousand

24.9

33.5

36.5

Source: Lebanese survey of maternal and child health, 1996.

*Owing to the small sample in the governorate of Nabatiyah and the field difficulties facing the researchers, the information on the mortality rate in this governorate is inaccurate.

298.From the social point of view, there is a strong link between the educational attainment of mothers and the child mortality rate. Hence, children born to mothers who are either illiterate or who are simply able to read and write are 3.5 times more liable to die than those born to mothers who are educated to secondary level or higher. Mothers who are illiterate have an average of 6.9 children, whereas mothers with a university education have an average of 2.7 children. The mortality rate among infants under one year of age is 54.5 per thousand among children whose mothers are illiterate, compared with 14.8 per thousand among children whose mothers have obtained at least a secondary school certificate. The same pattern can be seen in regard to the mortality rate among the under-fives. These considerable variations indicate the significance of maternal education and its positive effect on child health and the child mortality rate.

Infant and child mortality rates among the under-fives by educational attainment of the mother

(per thousand live births)

Educational attainment of the mother

Mortality among newborns (aged under one month)

Mortality among infants (aged under one year)

Mortality among children (aged under five years)

Illiterate

38.2

54.5

57.7

Able to read and write

33.3

51.1

55.6

Primary school

23.4

29.6

33.9

Intermediate school

23.6

30.5

31.7

Secondary school or higher

12.8

33.5

16.5

Total per thousand

24.9

33.5

36.5

Source: Lebanese survey of maternal and child health, 1996.

299.The survey also showed that the differences between males and females are negligible, standing at no higher than one per thousand in the case of all rates.

300.The inference to be drawn from the above review is that, whereas the fall in the mortality rate constitutes an improvement in regard to the right of the child to survival, not all children have equal access to this right, as wide regional and social variations remain in regard to this important indicator.

7.3.3Disease and accident

301.The noticeable improvement in the child mortality rates is not matched by the same level of progress in regard to the health status of children in general, given that the incidence of various diseases in children remains high, as does their exposure to accident.

Incidence of various diseases in children aged under five

Disease

Percentage

Diarrhoea

11.7

Respiratory

56.8

Fever

3.7

Ear infections

7.7

Eye infections

7.6

Measles

8.1

Other

3.6

Source: Lebanese survey of maternal and child health, 1996.

302.As for accidents, 2.7% of children fell victim, with a slightly higher incidence among boys (3%) than among girls (2.4%).

303.The following table shows that the most common accidents among children were injuries and burns, representing two-thirds of cases. It is also noticeable that three out of every four accidents occur within the home and that 28% may result in long-term impediments or disability.

Child accidents by type, sex and place of occurrence

(per cent)

Sex

Percentage suffering accidents

Type of injury

Place of accident

Accidents resulting in long-term disability

%

No. of children

Wound

Burn

Fracture

Poison

Other

Inside home

Outside home

Other

Male

3.0

1 137

38.1

26.5

5.7

9.1

20.6

76.1

12.1

11.7

29.8

Female

2.4

1 019

29.2

41.7

8.4

4.4

16.3

70.9

20.7

8.3

25.4

Total

2.7

2 156

34.4

32.7

6.8

7.2

18.8

74.0

15.7

10.3

28.0

Source: Lebanese survey of maternal and child health, 1996.

304.In the light of this observation, the Ministry of Public Health carried out a series of activities aimed at strengthening accident prevention. These activities are run in coordination with other concerned ministries, non-governmental organizations and universities, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. These efforts, however, are neither sufficient nor ongoing, particularly since the media fail to join in other than during national campaigns, as such efforts do not form an organic part of their programmes and guidelines.

7.3.4Comprehensive immunization

305.The findings of the Lebanese survey of maternal and child health pointed to the important role played by the national programme for comprehensive immunization (launched in 1987) in ensuring the widespread inoculation of children against the diseases of childhood. The coverage rate of the triple vaccine combined with poliomyelitis increased to 99.8%, 96.8% and 91.8% for the three dosages respectively and to 77.1% in the case of the measles vaccine.

306.In 1997, two new combination vaccines were introduced to the national immunization schedule, namely a vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and a vaccine against diphtheria and tetanus.

Rates of inoculation among the under-fives

per cent)

Sex

Poliomyelitis and triple vaccine

Measles

First dosage

Second dosage

Third dosage

Male

99.5

96.6

91.4

75.8

Female

100

97.0

92.3

78.5

Governorate

Beirut

100

97.2

90.4

83.7

Mount Lebanon

100

97.1

94.4

79.2

North

98.7

96.0

88.4

72.8

Bekaa

100

97.0

88.6

68.3

South

100

98.9

93.5

76.3

Nabatiyah

100

98.9

93.5

76.3

Total

99.8

96.8

91.8

77.1

Source: Lebanese survey of maternal and child health, 1996.

307.The comprehensive immunization programme has achieved tangible results in relatively short periods of time. A comparison of the inoculation rates among children aged under five years (above table) with the corresponding rates among children aged between one and two years (following table) shows a clear improvement of 5 percentage points in the case of the third dosage of the poliomyelitis and triple vaccines and of 8.6 percentage points in the case of the measles vaccine. In addition, there is no noticeable distinction between males and females.

Inoculation of children aged between 12 and 23 months

(per cent)

Poliomyelitis and the triple vaccine

Measles

Sex

First dosage

Second dosage

Third dosage

Male

100

100

95.9

84.1

Female

100

100

98.4

87.5

Total

100

100

97.0

85.7

Source: Lebanese survey of maternal and child health, 1996.

308.The rate of comprehensive immunization among children in some deprived regions falls to 80% or less. A joint plan has been drawn up by UNICEF, the Ministries of Public Health and Social Affairs and the majority of non-governmental organizations active in the field of public health in these regions. The plan consists of a house-to-house inoculation campaign and health education activities from which over 1,000 mothers have benefited. As such, satisfactory results have been achieved. Every year, Lebanon also organizes "national immunization days" for the eradication of poliomyelitis which consist of two annual rounds of inoculation for children aged under five. In 1997, 90% of children were also immunized against measles.

7.3.5The nutritional status of children

309.The information contained in the Lebanese survey of maternal and child health indicates that the incidence of malnutrition has fallen; 3% of children are underweight (for their age), 2.9% are emaciated (have low weight in relation to height) and 12.2% are short in stature. These effects vary according to governorate and the educational attainment of the mother.

310.In Lebanon, lack of the required amount of calories poses no real problem. A problem does exist, however, in terms of the type and variety of food, as demonstrated by the significant deficiencies in iron, iodine and vitamin A. Heavy tooth decay is also common in children. Given the success achieved in tackling the problem of iodine deficiency by adding iodine to salt in a project started in 1995, a similar project is being set up to add fluoride to salt in order to protect against tooth decay. This process is expected to reduce tooth decay by almost 30%. In 1997, it was also announced that a national study would be carried out to determine how much anaemia was caused by low levels of blood iron in women of childbearing age and in children aged under five.

7.3.6Breastfeeding

311.In all, 88% of women breastfeed their children. There are no appreciable differences on the basis of region or educational status of the mother. This percentage, however, gradually falls as the age of the mother rises. The basic reasons for failure to breastfeed are insufficient milk or maternal illness.

312.The average period of breastfeeding is nine months. The higher the educational status of the mother, however, the shorter this period lasts (13 months for mothers who are illiterate compared with six months for mothers who have completed a secondary school education). This average also differs according to governorate, reaching its maximum in the North (about 11 months) and its lowest in Mount Lebanon (about 7 months).

313.Only 11% of mothers bottle-feed as the basic or only method of nursing and 58% bottle-feed in conjunction with breastfeeding. Most children begin taking solid foods regularly from the fifth month.

314.In the past few years, efforts aimed at strengthening breastfeeding have been stepped up and concrete initiatives have taken shape with a view to altering the medical practice in hospitals and maternity homes in order to restrict the promotion of alternatives to maternal breastmilk. In this field, the National Committee for the Promotion of Breastfeeding achieved a considerable number of successes. In particular, it established a core training team and provided training for 64 doctors, midwives and nurses, as well as 501 other members of the medical profession, so that they in turn could provide training in hospitals and maternity homes. In 1998, the number of “child-friendly” hospitals stood at 18 and efforts are ongoing at all levels to strengthen breastfeeding in view of the additional protection which it offers to a child during the first months of life. Some difficulties, however, are still encountered in regard to application of the law prohibiting the free distribution of milk substitutes, as the capacity of the Ministry of Public Health to intervene is limited when confronted with the resources of the private sector in this field.

7.4Maternal health

315.Women have benefited from the development in health care, as reflected in their average life expectancy at birth, which now stands at70.7 years. Various other health indicators for women have also improved. The findings of the Lebanese survey of maternal and child health showed that the rate of maternal deaths from pregnancy or birth amounted to 104 per thousand live births. This section will explore in particular the indicators of maternal health care during pregnancy and birth in order to determine their implications for child health and a child's opportunities in life.

7.4.1Antenatal and obstetric health care

316.The results of the Lebanese survey of maternal and child health show that approximately 79% of women who were pregnant at the time of the survey (1996) had at least one check-up. This percentage was higher among women under 30 years of age (82.1%) than among older women (60%). The rate of follow-up varies according to governorate and is at its highest in Beirut (96%) and at its lowest in the North (54.1%). It is also higher depending on the educational attainment of the pregnant woman.

317.As for the reasons for the failure to attend for further check-up, 14% of cases are due to the pregnant woman’s belief that the time is still too early and about 32% of cases are because "no health problems" are experienced or because of the high cost entailed.

318.In regard to the place of the follow-up check and the person conducting the check, the findings of the survey showed that approximately 98% of women have their follow-up antenatal checks in government or private health institutions. It also showed that most follow-up checks (87%) are carried out in private institutions and that doctors dispense health services in about 93% of cases. It should be noted that attendance at private institutions and the percentages of pregnant women to whom doctors dispense antenatal health care services clearly differ in accordance with educational attainment, as these percentages increase in proportion to the educational attainment of the pregnant woman.

Percentage breakdown of pregnant women who had follow-up antenatal checks by place of most recent follow-up check and percentage of those checked by a doctor by characteristic

Age of mother

Institution where the follow-up check was conducted

Women checked by a doctor

Government-run

Private

Home

Other

Total

Under 30

10.3

88.2

0.8

0.8

100

92.0

30-49

11.3

85.2

1.7

1.7

100

95.0

Governorate

Beirut

4.2

95.8

0

0

100

95.8

Mount Lebanon

5.8

88.4

2.9

2.9

100

95.7

North

24.2

75.8

0

0

100

100

Bekaa

8.7

91.3

0

0

100

73.9

South and Nabatiyah

13.3

86.7

0

0

100

92.0

Educational attainment

Without qualification

15.0

79.5

5.5

0

100

79.0

Primary

22.0

78.0

0

0

100

89.8

Intermediate and above

4.9

92.4

0.9

1.8

100

96.6

Total

10.5

87.2

1.1

1.1

100

93.0

319.As for place of delivery, 87.9% of births (during the five years preceding the survey) took place in government or private medical centres, where doctors assumed the main role in 73% of cases, compared with 11.9% which took place in the home. The percentage of births in medical centres increases in line with the educational attainment of the mother and also varies according to governorate. The percentage of home births is higher in impoverished rural areas, where a high proportion of births are unsupervised by a doctor or legal midwife, thus increasing the likelihood of risk to the mother and baby.

Percentage breakdown of births during the five years preceding the survey

by type of birth assistant and by characteristic

Governorate

Doctor

Midwife or nurse

Wetnurse

Relatives or friends

Other

None

Beirut

91.0

2.9

4.9

0.0

0.8

0.4

Mount Lebanon

89.3

6.4

4.4

0.0

0.0

0.0

North

56.7

18.3

24.0

0.2

0.8

0.0

Bekaa

58.3

32.5

7.6

1.0

0.0

0.7

South

70.0

28.6

2.4

0.0

0.0

0.0

Nabatiyah

68.4

18.1

13.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

Educational attainment

Without qualification

50.4

21.8

26.1

0.8

0.9

0.0

Primary

68.9

21.8

9.0

0.0

0.0

0.3

Intermediate or above

87.2

9.1

3.5

0.0

0.2

0.1

Total

72.8

16.0

10.7

0.1

0.3

0.1

Source: Lebanese survey of maternal and child health, 1996.

7.4.2Consanguineous marriage

320.Consanguineous marriage is a widespread phenomenon in traditional societies. Its relationship to child health is that there is a high likelihood of congenital disease in children born to parents who are related by blood. Such instances also entail complications when it comes to education, as the child’s family becomes caught up with his parents' extended family, thus increasing the potential for interference from relatives in the family's domestic affairs, including the child’s education and the determination of his future choices.

321.The detrimental effect of this phenomenon has been noted in the high percentage of birth defects. A high rate of congenital disease has also been noted among children who are hospitalized for treatment. Although the compulsory requirement of a pre-marital health certificate helps to limit such risks, it does not eliminate them entirely, either because health certificates may be fraudulent or because they are incapable of covering every eventuality.

322.The findings of the Lebanese survey of maternal and child health indicated that one in every five married women was married to her maternal or paternal cousin or to another of her relatives. This ratio is much higher in regions where the social fabric is predominantly tribal in nature and among certain national minorities and religious groups.

323.The rate of consanguineous marriage varies in accordance with the educational attainment of the women. It is therefore as high as 24% among women who are illiterate and as low as 12% among women who have a secondary school certificate or university degree. There is a noticeable tendency, however, for consanguineous marriage to be less common among youngsters, as well as among women recently married and during the first half of the 1970s.

Percentage breakdown of women already married by relationship between the spouses,

number of years since the first marriage and educational attainment

Period since first marriage

Relationship

Total

Maternal or paternal cousin

Other connection

No connection

Unstated

Less than 5 years

16.2

0.4

83.3

0.2

100

5-9 years

17.6

2.5

79.9

0.0

100

10-14 years

19.7

2.7

77.5

0.2

100

15-19 years

20.1

2.5

77.4

0.0

100

20-24 years

15.8

2.9

81.3

0.0

100

25-29 years

19.9

5.9

74.2

0.0

100

30+ years

18.7

2.8

78.5

0.0

100

Educational attainment

Illiterate

21.8

2.1

76.1

0.0

100

Ability to read and write

22.2

3.7

74.1

0.0

100

Primary

21.7

2.6

75.6

0.1

100

Intermediate

18.2

3.0

78.7

0.1

100

Secondary and above

10.2

1.8

88.0

0.0

100

Total

18.2

2.6

79.2

0.1

100

Source: Lebanese survey of maternal and child health, 1996.

7.5Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

324.Information from the National Programme to Combat AIDS points to a cumulative total of 510 cases as at December 1997, meaning the emergence of 60 new cases since 1996. The number of notified cases, however, is anticipated to be much lower than the true number in view of the dynamics of the disease itself (which may remain dormant for long periods of time) and the difficulties in connection with the notification mechanism employed and the current postal system.

325.The average age of sufferers is 31 years and sexual relations of whatever type are the most common means of transmission (accounting for 80% of cases). The cases which have amassed through infected blood account for about 7% of cases, a figure which has remained unaltered since 1993.

326.Children account for 4% of notified cases (in other words, 18 children are thus far affected). These children were infected by their mothers, who were in turn infected by their husbands. Women account for 21% of notified cases. It should also be noted that approximately 70% of cases occur among expatriates/travellers or individuals who have a direct connection with them.

327.The National Committee to Combat AIDS was formed in 1988 and modified in 1993 to include additional government and non-governmental institutions and specialist committees. Its tasks range from awareness-raising and prevention, setting notification measures in motion and treating sufferers. It is also worth noting that several AIDS-related laws have been passed, particularly in regard to the regulation of blood transfusion monitoring, the compulsory notification of cases and compulsory pre-marital AIDS testing.

7.6Child health programmes

328.Having resumed its activity, the Ministry of Health began to formulate plans and programmes that are implemented through the primary health case system and the health centres located throughout the whole of Lebanon. The health plans emphasize various principles included in the context of implementing of the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children during the 1990s, in particular:

-The responsibility of the State for providing the basic resources and suitable conditions for the provision of health care services for all;

-Emphasis on activities relevant to the health problems of the most vulnerable groups, such as children and mothers;

-The comprehensive provision of essential health services for inhabitants in the context of primary health care;

-Coordination and integration among the bodies responsible for the provision of health services with a view to developing health as part of the process of overall economic and social development.

329.The primary health care programme for the next five years focuses on preventive and educational services and comprises three projects:

(i)The maternal and child health project;

(ii)The comprehensive immunization project;

(iii)The project to combat acute bacterial diseases of the respiratory tract.

Implementation of this programme commenced with the opening of 30 health centres with the support of the World Bank and with a view to further expansion in subsequent stages. The Ministry, however, continues to encounter various obstacles which prevent the full development of this system, including the absence of any referential links between the levels of primary and secondary health care.

330.For its part, the Ministry of Social Affairs is endeavouring through its new strategy to establish its centres for developmental services throughout the whole of Lebanon; no fewer than 88 centres are anticipated in the future. It is through these centres that the Ministry of Social Affairs cooperates with the Ministry of Public Health in implementing primary health programmes with a view to turning the slogan of health for all into a reality.

331.The pioneering child health care programmes include the school health programme in that it enjoys several advantages, not least of which are comprehensiveness and continuity. This programme was launched in the mid-1980s on the initiative of non-governmental organizations. It then began developing progressively and acquired its present hallmarks when the National Committee for the School Medicine Programme was formed in February 1993, which brought together representatives of the Government (the Ministries of Health, Social Affairs and Education), the non-governmental sector and the relevant international organizations (UNICEF and WHO).

332.The aim of the programme is to detect health problems at an early stage and reduce their incidence, as well as reduce the incidence of disease in primary schools. The main method employed to achieve this objective is to carry out an annual health check on all primary stage pupils in State schools and in private non-fee-paying schools, as it is mostly in these schools that children from low-income groups are enrolled. The programme also includes follow-up of those cases which so require, as well as awareness-raising, training and follow-up activities in order to strengthen disease prevention and promote sound health habits, such as attention to personal and general hygiene.

333.This programme has steadily developed, particularly since the beginning of the 1990s. Some 108,000 pupils in 1,005 primary schools throughout Lebanon underwent the annual health check in the 1993/94 academic year, a figure which rose to 134,600 in the 1997/98 academic year. Hundreds of doctors and nurses (477 doctors and 169 nurses in 1996/97) take part in the check-up procedure, as do scores of local and national non-governmental organizations. The Government also plays its part.

334.This check-up can be regarded as providing the most extensive and continuous flow of information on the health status of children between the ages of 5 and 12. The initial results of the school check-up in the 1997/98 academic year show that 44.1% of children nationwide suffered from health problems, with some regional variations; the proportion of pupils with health problems is at its highest in the governorate of the North, where it amounts to 52.4% of all pupils.

Proportion of pupils suffering health problems by geographical region

(percentage of all pupils)

Source: Report on the school health programme, 1998.

335.This programme also helps in monitoring the most widespread diseases and how they develop over the years. According to the 1998 report, oral diseases and dental problems ranked first, affecting 16.7% of pupils. These were followed in order of importance by diseases of the throat and tonsils (5.1%), diseases of the ear (3.7%), diseases of the skin, hair and nails (3.6%), diseases of the eye (2.9%) and lastly, other forms of disease. As for the effectiveness of prevention and cure, the cumulative results indicate a noticeable improvement in the health of school pupils, as the percentage of diseases fell successively between the academic years 1993/94 (60.1%) and 1996/97 (37%). A rise in this percentage, however, was recorded in the year 1997/98 (44.1%).

Increase and fall in the rate of diseases by year (per cent)

Academic year

Rate of disease

Fall (-) or increase (+)

1990/91

60.1

-

1993/94

46.7

-13.4

1995/96

39.8

-6.9

1996/97

37.0

-2.8

1997/98

44.1

+7.1

Source: Reports of the School Medicine Programme.

336.The final aspect of the advantage of this programme is that it highlighted the need for the establishment of health units in the Ministry of Education and for health advisers in schools, as well as the need for work to start on the introduction of compulsory health cards for pupils. This in turn opens up limitless possibilities for addressing health and social problems in a proper and practical manner.

7.7Spending on health and health insurance

7.7.1Government spending

337.Between 1993 and 1998, the share of the Ministry of Health in the overall general budget varied between 2.3% and 3.6%. This budget excludes the majority of projects aimed at renovating and equipping the health sector. It also excludes future plans for which special extrabudgetary spending programmes have been earmarked in laws and programmes derived from the ten-year plan.

338.The sums earmarked for the Ministry of Health more than doubled between 1993 and 1998, although the relative importance of this particular expenditure item did not much alter (from 3.2% to 3.6% of the total budget). More important than the percentage amounts, however, is the distribution of the sums allocated to the Ministry among all the expenditure items and the share received by children.

Distribution of the budget of the Ministry of Health among the different expenditure items

between 1993 and 1997 (percentage of its budget)

Expenditure item

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

Salaries and wages

7.5

8.3

7.2

7.4

5.7

Medicines

4.3

5.4

6.9

6.9

8.1

Contributions, assistance and subscriptions

1.1

3.0

2.9

2.2

4.6

Treatment costs

83.9

75.8

72.2

76.9

77.8

Other outgoings

3.3

7.5

10.8

6.5

3.7

Total

100

100

100

100

100

Source: Ministry of Public Health.

339.This table indicates that the largest part of the Ministry's budget is spent on covering the costs of treating those who are not private hospital patients (accounting for between 73 and 83% of the Ministry’s budget). Most of these costs are for open heart surgery, kidney dialysis and cancer treatments, amounting to several thousand cases, an extremely small proportion of whom are children.

340.Children are in the least need of hospital treatment and benefit more from primary health care programmes and preventive health programmes, which account for a very small share of the total government expenditure. Even a significant portion of the extrabudgetary spending goes on the hospital treatment sector and therapeutic medicine. The sensitivity with which the needs of children are considered is therefore inadequate.

7.7.2Private spending

341.Lebanon is a country with the distinction of a high health bill which matches neither the quantity nor the quality of its health services. The Government share in the total health bill stands at 31% and the contributions of citizens at 62%. Health is an essential family expenditure item in view of the considerable role played by the private sector in this sensitive social sector. As such, family and child access to health services is conditional on the availability of financial resources for that purpose. According to the study on household living conditions, the average amount which a family spends on health care amounts to 8.6% of its total budget.

7.7.3Health insurance coverage

342.Only 42% of residents in Lebanon are covered under social and health insurance schemes, with some striking regional discrepancies. A total of 12.6% of inhabitants benefit from the services of the Ministry of Health.

Rates of coverage under health insurance schemes by governorate (percentage)

Lebanon

Beirut

Beirut suburbs

Mount Lebanon excluding suburbs

North

South

Nabatiyah

Bekaa

Insured

42.0

55.3

50.2

53.2

43.6

23.5

36.6

35.6

Social insurance

15.2

21.0

19.7

16.9

12.4

10.5

11.5

11.7

Employees’ cooperative

13.1

8.1

10.8

13.3

16.8

8.8

14.6

18.4

Insured by employer

1.9

4.3

2.2

2.3

0.9

1.4

1.1

1.5

Other private insurance

8.7

15.4

12.3

16.5

3.3

2.1

8.4

3.2

Combined insurance

2.9

6.5

5.3

4.2

1.2

0.6

1.0

0.9

Uninsured

58.0

44.7

49.8

46.8

65.4

76.5

63.4

64.4

Receiving benefits from the Ministry of Health

12.6

7.8

12.9

8.3

13.1

18.5

16.2