Lebanon, with a population of 4.2 million inhabitants and a growing economy since 2000, has the highest GDP per capita among non-oil exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The service and banking sectors, especially commerce, tourism and financial services, constitute more than seventy per cent of the country’s GDP. The service sector in particular is increasing steadily.
However, despite the country’s economic growth, activity rate is as low as 48 per cent and the lowest in the Mediterranean region. The informal sector in Lebanon is large and people are strongly dependent on family and community networks in their search for jobs.
Education is traditionally highly valued, enrolment rates in primary education are high (99.2 per cent for both girls and boys) and the Lebanese education and training system is among the best-performing in the MENA region. Education is mainly dominated by private provision; the public sector caters only to the 30 per cent of all students that come from vulnerable backgrounds.
Challenges and opportunities
In the Lebanese labour market, needs are weakly monitored and links between the labour market and the vocational education and training (VET) system are weak and unorganized. So far, the country lacks a strategy for lifelong learning; there is only a limited offer for adult education and training, and the education system lacks mechanisms for recognizing qualifications gained outside the formal system.
National standards, policy and framework activity
Despite these challenges, the National Education Strategy of 2010 and the European Union-Lebanon Action Plan for cooperation reveal a strong priority to develop a National Qualifications Framework (NQF). A technical paper, drafted for the National Education Strategy of 2010, proposed a NQF built on:
- eight levels described in terms of knowledge, skills, and competences;
- a set of principles for quality assurance regarding the design and delivery of qualifications; and
- a set of methods aligning the qualifications to the NQF.
The main objectives of the NQF are to ensure mobility between the general and vocational education sectors and to promote more transparent and legible qualifications that are relevant for the labour market. The aim of the NQF is to ensure that qualifications are recognized based on specified competences, regardless of whether these have been acquired in formal, non-formal or informal settings.
To establish the Lebanese NQF, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education set up a working group in 2010 comprising representatives from the three main educational sectors – TVET, general education and higher education. In 2011, the working group produced a technical paper mapping existing qualifications as well as identifying processes that would enable these qualifications to be integrated into an NQF. In 2012, the paper was developed further.
At a national conference in 2012, the working group presented its final proposal for a Lebanese NQF to the Minister of Education and Higher Education, based on the aforementioned eight levels and descriptors. Further cooperation on the development of the NQF followed and resulted in a synthesis report describing the processes, tools and activities implemented.
Despite political instability in Lebanon, implementation of the proposed NQF remains a strong priority on the educational agenda (UNESCO, ETF and CEDEFOP, 2015).
UIL; European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Greece); European Training Foundation (Italy). 2015. Global inventory of regional and national qualifications frameworks. V. II: national and regional cases. Hamburg, 2015.
Ministry of Education and Higher Education