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The Maronite Church and Higher Education


Chapter I : The Maronite Church: Educational Choices Throughout History




1. Early on, the Maronite Church was aware that higher education is a vast opportunity field for its mission and one of its distinctive tools, because it permits serving Church and man through the intellect, thus affording the matter serious attention. It was impossible for the researcher to pinpoint the start of the Maronite epoch in higher education, because of the imprecise definition of the term Higher Education in previous centuries on the one hand, and, on the other, the lack of accurate specific historical data concerning this subject. However, there is a sort of consensus to consider the date of the founding of the Maronite College in Rome in 1583, as the actual launching date of Maronite openness to higher education, a notable, organized and well aimed openness[1]. However, the seeds of Maronite interest in this sector of education started to appear with the dispatch of the first group of Maronite youth to the West to be instructed in it; this was in the last quarter of the fifteenth century[2].


2. The Maronites strived for higher education and acquired it first in Rome, and later, from the nineteenth century until today, at: the American University of Beirut founded in 1866 by a number of Protestant missionaries, at St. Joseph’s University, Beirut, founded in 1875 by the Jesuit Fathers, and at the Lebanese University founded in 1951, as well as at universities in Europe and America. Then, they endeavored to spread this education through the institutions they themselves established, the most prominent of which was Ain Waraka School founded in Kesrwan in 1789 by Patriarch Joseph Estephan of Ghosta, a graduate of the Maronite School in Rome. Archbishop Youssef Ad-Dibs from the Maronite Eparchy of Beirut also had the merit of founding, by virtue of an Ottoman decree, the La Sagesse Institute of Law (1875-1913), which in 1999 became La Sagesse University. During the past few years, specifically since the law regulating higher education was ratified in Lebanon in 1961, a number of Maronite orders have established new institutions of higher education, namely: The Holy Spirit University in Kaslik (USEK) (1962) affiliated to the Lebanese Maronite Order, Notre Dame University (NDU) (1987) affiliated to the Mariamite Maronite Order, the Antonine University (1996) affiliated to the Antonine Maronite Order, and the Holy Family Superior Institute for Nursing and Physiotherapy (2000) affiliated to the Maronite Nuns of the Holy Family. It is worth noting that the initiative adopted by the Maronite Eparchy of Beirut and the said Maronite orders in founding universities was not circumstantial, rather, appertaining to a long tread built on the inheritance of knowledge, on conveying, treasuring and developing it, and was an extension to the path of cultural evolvement pioneered by these monastic orders.


3. Needless to declare, the historical circumstances of higher education for Maronites prevailing today are different from those of the past. The founding of the Maronite College took place in the framework of the challenges that were evoked by the Protestant Reformation and in the course of the measures taken by the Catholic Church against it, of which was the convocation of the Council of Trent (1545-1563), which launched the countering Catholic revival movement. Thanks to the spread of the ecumenical spirit among the Churches, the conditions that accompanied the founding of both the American and Jesuit Universities have now been transcended. The givens have changed fundamentally, and suffices to remind, that in those advanced historical phases, higher education became almost limited to the Maronite clergy[3], whereas today all Lebanese of all denominations converge on it. The Maronite College in Rome, which the Lebanese contributed to its erection, was the only institution specialized exclusively in higher education, whereas the number of such institutions in Lebanon today has exceeded forty.


4. In the light of the preceding, the first chapter of this text describes the most prominent constants that may be discerned in the Maronites’ long walk in the field of higher education. Since these constants are rich in lessons, then there is no doubt that recalling them and reflecting upon them, in the context of our Synod, will help draw before us some future horizons and challenges, and also aid us in adopting the choices which will produce benefit for our Church and our nation with all its siblings. The second chapter outlines the state of higher education in Lebanon today as seen through the experiment of the Lebanese University and other private universities in general, as well as the experiment of the Maronite universities mentioned above. In the third and last chapter, the text presents the position of the Maronite Church and its mission with respect to higher education, with what this entails in proposals and recommendations aimed at promoting this education and the continued growth of the Church’s mission.


Chapter One:


Historical Constants and Lessons Drawn from the Maronite Experiment in Higher Education



First: The Historical Constants that may be drawn from reviewing the experiments of the Schools of Rome and Ain Waraka


1. The Maronites’ Enthusiasm in Seeking Higher Education


5. Those who are acquainted with the history of the Maronite College in Rome cannot but appreciate the Maronite patriarchs’ perception of the dire need of their Church to provide for their clergy a formation that is scientific, sober minded and adequate. Also appreciated, is the dispensing of swift endeavors with painstaking efforts to provide such, under the most suitable of conditions. Witnessing to these perceptions and endeavors are the reports of the envoys who negotiated the establishment of the College on their behalf with those responsible in the Vatican departments concerned, and the correspondence of the Patriarchs in this respect. The best evidence that the Maronites’ interest in higher education was not circumstantial or transient, but rather focused and continuous, is the long and arduous task assumed by Archbishop Elias Howayek (before he became Patriarch) of reinstating the Maronite College after its closure in 1808, as a result of the French military occupation of Rome. He deployed strenuous efforts, undertaking a tour through the cities of Italy and France and ending up in Istanbul to obtain donations for the necessary funding.


6. Appreciation is also due to the students of the Maronite College in Rome for the monumental physical and moral sacrifices they made for the sake of completing their education. Patriarch Stephen Douaihy’s letter to them clearly describes some of these: “You know that you have left country and parents to learn the Divine sciences and to that end you bore the hardships of travel and the bitterness of emigration…since, at an early age, you chose education over folks and fathers, you must give of yourselves to procure it, and spend the stillness of nights assimilating it... we are well aware that the road is not free from hardships and suffering….”


7. Additional to the awareness of the ecclesiastical authorities of the need for higher education, their effort to learn it, and the willingness of seminarians to bear hardships to acquire it, we realize that Maronites sought such education in appreciable numbers[4]. Those numbers may seem small compared to nowadays; however, they attain their full significant and sure expression of the strong interest Maronites have in higher education, when they are set in their true historical context. This calls for the taking into consideration of the demographic data in the days of the two schools and their limited student capacity, considering that they had to provide students with the necessities and requirements for schooling, lodging and financial support, all free of charge throughout the period of formation, and also travel expenses to and from Rome. In the light of all the preceding, we see that the preparation of graduates from both schools clearly show that Maronites flocked to join them in attention grabbing numbers. What multiplies the significance and value of those numbers is the great mark left by these graduates in Lebanon and the East in the fields of religion, literature, intellect, politics and culture, and their pioneering and decisive role in the Arab Renaissance.


2. The Maronites’ Interest in Arabic and Foreign Languages


8. From the experience of the Maronite College in Rome, the Maronites realized the importance of languages as tools for communication, mutual understanding, and dialogue. This experience was characterized by the interest the students of this college showed in learning and mastering foreign languages, transcribing from and into them, through translation and Arabization. This had its influence in introducing the West to the civilizations and the heritage of the East, and opened up the East to the civilizations and the culture of the West, causing its entrance into the modern age, reviving the Arabic language and its literature, thus bringing about Renaissance.


9. What draws attention here is that, the Maronites realized the importance of mastering foreign languages, especially Latin, to derive benefit from the sciences of the West, and to establish personal contact and direct relations with it without recourse to mediators, thus eliminating ambiguity and misunderstanding. At the same time, they were aware of the importance of mastering Eastern languages, especially Syriac and Arabic, in order to effectively assume the burden of the Christian mission they were called to fulfill, and, to disseminate, in their countries and outside them, the doctrines of the faith, knowledge gains and modern science[5]. Their openness to the West through mastery of its languages, in their opinion, is allowed only because of their genuine bonds to the East and their desire to serve its sons and daughters. The students of the Maronite College in Rome may have been the first to realize the true and deep significance of sound bilingualism, which is not a source of wealth unless it is accurately directed deliberately toward enriching and developing the national language[6]. Within this awareness lies the care taken by the Jesuits, who administered the Maronite College for 189 years, since its founding and until the suppression of their society in 1773, to appoint Maronite monks from the society "in order to revive the authentic liturgical life, teach Arabic and Syriac, and facilitate spiritual prayer in the students’ mother tongue"[7].

10. We have in the preparatory school founded by Patriarch John Makhlouf in 1624 in Our Lady of Hawqa Old Monastery, the best proof of the interest of Maronites in languages in their country, and their awareness of its role in forming the educated cultured elite. This school taught six languages: Syriac, Arabic, Greek, Latin, Turkish, and Persian, and so, prepared excelling students to be sent to the Maronite College in Rome. This interest in languages became evident in Ain Waraka School as well. Patriarch Joseph Hobeich, a graduate of the College in Rome, added Latin and Italian to the two languages Arabic and Syriac, already taught at the school, after it became clear that these two languages were incapable of meeting the demands arising from the economic and political transformations of the first half of the nineteenth century. The headmasters of the school later added teaching French, following the events of 1860, to enable students to adapt to the new transformations[8].


11. We must note here that by defending linguistic pluralism the Maronites were loyal to a tradition that, since ancient times, had characterized the inhabitants of the area that is now Lebanon. Plurality of languages was a widespread phenomenon during many epochs in the history of this nation, and the dominant local Semitic languages, as well as other Semitic ones, were in use contiguous to non-Semitic languages. After the foundational phase in which the Phoenician language prevailed, Phoenician and Aramaic came into contemporaneous use in these lands, and in coastal cities, Phoenician, Aramaic, and Greek were all spoken. Then, in the Roman era, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin became the dominant languages. With the Arab Conquest, Lebanon came to know a new aspect of bilingualism exemplified by the two languages, Arabic and Aramaic, extending till the 18th century, in which the use of Aramaic decreased and when trade relations with Italy grew, the Italian language entered Lebanon. During that time, the area witnessed the establishment of many schools that taught both Italian and French in addition to Arabic. After the events of 1840-1860, French was destined to completely replace Italian due to the spread of educational institutions established by French missionaries. No need to elaborate on the phenomenon of ‘linguistic pluralism’ prevailing in Lebanon today. Its heralds began appearing in the second half of the 19th century with the advent of Protestant missions which introduced the English language. It seems quite clear that linguistic pluralism is a deeply entrenched and an ongoing hallmark of Lebanon, and is one of its distinctive characteristics.


12. Studying the linguistic history of Lebanon, one notices that the linguistic pluralism that has long existed in the country is of two types: the linguistic pluralism that is of a beneficial character arising from trade exchange and the requirements of international political relations. However, it is not devoid of cultural influences, and the linguistic pluralism that is of a predominantly cultural character. It can be affirmed that this linguistic pluralism, whatever its causes, often attributed to political, economic, demographic or religious motives, or a combination of these, is a tradition that dates back over three thousand years and is one of the constants in the ancient and contemporary history of Lebanon, achieving the openness of Lebanon to the outside world and an interconnection with it. It has always had mutual and interactive cultural effects, and it can rightly be considered a fundamental constituent element in forging the national identity of this country, and a distinctive mark in the dimensions of its cultural and humane mission.


3. Ensuring Education for the Service of the Community and Society


13. The patent for the establishment of the Maronite College in Rome is a reference of utmost importance because it clearly describes the purpose of such a school and accurately specifies the responsibilities earmarked for its students to assume after their graduation. It would be good for our Patriarchal Synod to derive from this patent some of the principles of the educational statutes it is intending to declare, and which will focus on service of man who was created in the image of God. In the opinion of Pope Gregory XIII, the primary and basic aim behind the erection of the Maronite College is to “strengthen the faith of the Maronites and to cultivate them through the good sciences and provide for their formation a sound education built on all Christian virtues, that they may become apostles spreading the aroma of piety and the teachings of the Holy Church over the Cedars of Lebanon, their community, and their countries.” In another part, the patent continues: “We sincerely hope that the students of this college, over the years to come, and after their being formed in the odors of piety and true faith, will disseminate it over the Cedars of Lebanon and their community, working in the Lord’s service, and renewing faith in the hearts of the weak and maintaining it in their countries. Ultimately, the minor physical work, which benefits but few visitors of Rome, will be transformed into a spiritual act which benefits the whole congregation and serves its salvation.” What is clearly revealed in this patent is the explicit insistence on the student’s return to their original countries after having completed their formation in order to serve. This fact consolidates the natural bond between the students’ mental and spiritual enrichment at the individual level through learning, and investing what they have acquired in the service of the community; that is through connecting education to the concept of mission. This foundational patent calls for a spirit of openness that urges its consolidation. The benefit from establishing the College was not limited to the Maronites only, or even to Lebanon, instead it also urged the spreading of the benefit “in their countries,” meaning all the countries from which the students came to study or to which they returned, namely, in addition to Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus and Malta. An honest echo of these trends is clearly shown in two letters by Patriarch Stephen Duwaihi addressed to the students of the Maronite College in Rome. These two letters are rich with the evangelical spirit and the educational concepts they contain, which are highly modern in their approach connecting the acquiring of education with benefiting others through it: “We wish you, dear sons, not to neglect the graces with which you were endowed, nor to underrate your vocation, for the Lord has chosen you from among thousands and satisfied all your needs so you may adorn your souls with virtues and all that is good, in the hope that you will benefit your neighbor with your knowledge….” In another letter, he reminds them of their responsibility: “We have not sent you to far off countries by land and sea, save to study the Divine Sciences and to return and benefit others and trade with the talents because the East is in need of those who educate and cultivate….”[9]


Second: The Contribution of Maronites in Higher Education before and after the promulgation of the Law of 1961


14. After highlighting a number of constants filled with lessons from the higher education journey of the Maronites, in light of the experiment of the Maronite College in Rome and the Ain Waraka School. It is necessary now to invite those responsible for the institutions of higher education concerned, to draft a text which presents, in its first stage, the contributions of the St. Joseph University to the advancement of higher education in Lebanon, in general, and in preparing the educational and administrative bodies who are to take charge of the Maronite institutions of higher education, in particular. In a second phase, the contribution of the Maronite Eparchy of Beirut and a number of Maronite Orders to this sort of education prior to the official establishment of universities in accordance with the law regulating higher education in Lebanon, promulgated in 1961, provided the text depicts in brief; in a third stage, the particularities that distinguish each of these universities.


Chapter Two:


The Status Quo: Facts and Challenges


15. The Synod took note that prior to the events of 1975 in Lebanon, the number of institutions of higher education was limited; and that the years of war, for various reasons and motives, have known a marked increase in the number of these institutions, reaching a figure close to twenty. It also noted that higher education had witnessed, in the second half of the nineties, specifically in 1996, 1999, 2000, and 2001, a movement of significant expansion in the number of universities, colleges, and academies, their sizes, specializations, degrees, students, and graduates, surpassing the expansion that that sector had experienced throughout a century. That was after the government had licensed, in a short span of time (1996-2001), 23 faculties, colleges, or universities, and transformed colleges into universities, and licensed the incorporation of tens of new faculties and colleges within universities existing prior to that date. Thus, effecting a doubling of the number of operating institutions in Lebanon from 22 to 41, and increasing the number of students from 80,000 in (1995-1996) to close to 130,000 in (2002-2003), and university specializations became more varied increasing in number to around 150. In Lebanon, there are currently: one state university, 17 private universities, 18 university colleges or university institutions and 5 technical university colleges.


16. The Synod considers that having more than forty institutions of higher education is not in itself the heart of the problem; this phenomenon might seem like a healthy indication and may be considered as a national wealth. However, the problem basically lies, from one side, in the difficult conditions the Lebanese University is undergoing, and from another, in the decrees promulgated by the government, whether to organize higher education in the private sector or to license its institutions, and from yet another side, lies in the actions of some of these institutions.


First: The Problems the Lebanese University is Experiencing[10]


1. Buildings and Equipment


17. The Synod took note that:

·    The Lebanese University is made up of 13 faculties and 4 institutes distributed geographically over 40 branches in 3 subdivisions, in addition to 11 centers for research, studies, and education affiliated to 10 faculties. All these faculties, institutes with their administration are distributed over approximately 94 buildings.


·         The overwhelming majority of these buildings do not meet the minimum requirements for a university structure. Except for a very few number of them, most are residential buildings, not suitable for university use.[11] Most faculties and institutes do not possess suitable equipment, tools, libraries, and laboratories.


Despite all that, the new university complex in the Hadath-Choueifat is a commendable achievement. It is a modern complex built in compliance with the norms for the distribution of structure vs. green spaces, providing state-of-the-art equipment and students' dorms. However, many other branches in the different regions of Lebanon are still waiting for the construction of complexes of their own, dreading that their wait will be a long one.


2. Administrators and their status


18. The Synod took note that the Lebanese University does not have laws regulating the selection and appointment of administrative personnel,[12] and that their appointment is sometimes subject to political, confessional, and regional interference, and that the salary scales in use are too far on the low side, in addition to the flaws in the social and health benefits offered, and the deficiencies in the mechanization sphere.


3. The Educational Body and its Status


19. The Synod took note that the major problems suffered by the educational body are[13]:


·    The absence of job security for those deserving faculty contracted on hourly basis and for not granting the tenure for the full-time faculty who meet the legal and academic qualifications. There are flaws in the tenure law and in the mechanics of its implementation, the fact that required the promulgation of a new law that would take into consideration the necessity of providing for the requirements of the tenure and enabling university professors to be in contact with the labor market;


·    The absence of plans for preparing new batches in the specializations the university needs, considering that more than 1,277 professors will have been retired by the year 2020, and that the average age of the teaching body is 55;


·    The absence of evaluation of academic performance and vocational development: there are no special laws concerning the evaluation of academic performance, and no special program for the rejuvenation of education by the teaching body;

·    Complaints of professors at the level of salaries and benefits: there are rights stipulated by the law (Article 14, of Law 717) that professors are not receiving, and no high cost of living increments have been paid out since 1996 (an increase of 30%). There are also some flaws in implementing the law on research, and problems in the educational body’s mutual fund. There is widespread injustice at several levels caused by the retirement law.


It is noteworthy that several new cooperation agreements have been signed with European universities, leading to the establishment of a doctorate school (Ecole doctorale) for students seeking higher studies and PhDs subject to the supervision of Lebanese and European professors. This step allows Lebanese students to pursue higher studies without having to emigrate, and contributes to the setting up of new laboratories, the promotion of scientific research and the exchange of experience.


4. Weakness of the Lebanese University Budget


20. The Synod has taken note of the flaw in the budget setting mechanism, since it is imposed by the executive authority, contrary to university laws. It is worth noting that the government has been reducing the university budget so that it now constitutes only 1.6% of the general budget, in spite of the increase in the number of Baccalaureate holders (more than 90,000 students in the last four years). Moreover, 96.3% of the university budget is dispensed on salaries and indemnities.


5. The Students


21. The Synod has taken note that in addition to the unsuitability of university buildings for accommodating students, no attention is being given to all aspects of student formation, social, psychological, vocational, and cultural. There are no dormitories, no restaurants, no guidance, no counseling, and no interest shown in the problems of dropping out or graduation, and no consideration for organizing student unions, no state scholarships, and no academic excellence scholarships. Furthermore, students are not considered partners in the processes of evaluation and renewal of curricula and teaching methods, and there is no participation for them in the current frameworks for drawing up academic policies, or in university administration. On the other hand, there are attempts by various institutions to dominate their movement.


6. Education and Scientific Research


22. The Synod has taken note of the disparity between the substance of education and the working world, the absence of participation by the working world in the evaluation of education and the predominance of the theoretical over hands on training.


Despite the efforts exerted by the Scientific Research Committee affiliated to the University Administrative Board for coordinating research projects and for setting up mechanisms for their drafting and ratification, the university research policy is still in need of a deeper and more comprehensive vision. There is need for the elimination of excessive centralization in order to revive research centers, academic departments, and individual and collective initiatives in the different faculties and institutes.


Second: The Problems facing Private Higher Education in Lebanon[14]


23. The Synod considered that private higher education is a vast world of many dimensions. Despite the importance of its educational dimension, from curricula, procedures, instructors, teaching methods, instruction modes and scientific research, and despite its critical financial situation in general, especially in the prevailing economic conditions, our focus here will be restricted to the legal aspects. That is because the relationship of the Lebanese government to private institutions of higher education, is practically limited to these aspects, and is just about ready to reduce it. This is also due to the fact that the private higher education sector in Lebanon is wallowing in overwhelming chaos that is threatening with negative, rather, dangerous repercussions, as regards to its freedom, quality, continuity and future, and on the standard of its diplomas.


1. The Responsibility of the Government in Legislating


a. Belated Legislations


24. After it became clear to the Synod that the distinctive feature characterizing the relationship between the Lebanese State and private higher education is largely linked to the State’s limited role in the latter’s emergence, development, and organization;


And that the private institutions of higher education, some of which were established in the nineteenth century, exercised their educational mission in almost complete independence from the authority of the state, and that the freedom of education consecrated by the constitution, remained in fact without any organizational regulation throughout many decades, and the first and only text until of late, aimed at organizing private higher education in Lebanon, was the law issued on the 26th of December, 1961, ninety-five years after the establishment of the American University of Beirut; and as for the decree which regulated the conditions, specifications, and criteria required for the erection of a private institution of higher education, or for adding a faculty, or college within the university, was not promulgated until thirty-five years after the issuance of this law[15];


The Synod considered that the Lebanese government was extremely late in promulgating legislation organizing the private higher education sector.


      b. Deficiency in Drafting Legislation


25. After it became apparent to the Synod that that decree contradicts in a number of provisions the precepts of the law regulating higher education[16];


It did not indicate the necessity of granting licenses to establish new institutes of higher education, or to add a faculty, college, or new specialization to a legally licensed institution, in two phases, a first one where licensing is preliminary, and in the context of a conditional approval, and a second phase, where licensing becomes final and effective[17];


And it suffers flaws in its drafting at the level of the authority of the Technical Committee, as the legal texts currently in effect do not enable the committee to efficiently perform tasks entrusted to it, because this committee has a purely consultative status and does not enjoy decision-making authority[18];


The Synod has considered that fundamental deficiencies plague the draft of this applied decree.


c. Flaws in Implementing Legislations


26. After it became apparent to the Synod that the majority of licensing decrees issued in recent years lack precision and clarity since they are void of all that specifies the licensed specializations to be taught by the institute and the diplomas it is allowed to grant, and the effective date of the permit which authorizes commencement of classes…[19] etc;


The Synod considers that the decree detailing the conditions, specifications, and criteria, contains significant flaws in its implementation. It also considers that one does not side with what right is whoever claims that the Higher Education Council, in the absence of clear criteria and precise licensing mechanisms, has often checked the number of documents attached to the applicants’ files more than has checked their contents. It also considers that the decrees issued by the Council of Ministers are in their majority closer to the suitable rather than the objective, and closer to improvisation rather than planning, and has given consideration to sectarian balance more than consideration for balanced development, and was inspired by political considerations rather than by the requirements of educational policy.


2. Responsibilities of Institutions


a. Unlicensed Institutions


27. It also became apparent to the Synod that a large number of private institutions of higher education in Lebanon function illegally, receiving students, providing education, and granting diplomas without having obtained official permission to do so. They even go so far as to advertise themselves and their activities in the media, thus clearly violating the precepts of the law regulating higher education[20].


b. Infringements Committed by Licensed Institutions


28. It also became apparent to the Synod that some of these institutions are using misnomers claiming inaccurate or false names that are different from the official names mentioned in the licensing decree. They further teach and promote unlicensed specializations, misleading public opinion by claiming their legality, establishing new branches in different geographic areas without having the license to do so, and opening higher study programs before fulfilling the academic requirements or satisfying the legal prerequisites. Further irregularities include the issuing of unlicensed Masters and Doctorate degrees, admitting students who do not meet the necessary requirements for starting higher education such as obtaining the Lebanese Baccalaureate II or its official equivalent, issuing false transcripts and conferring degrees from universities situated outside Lebanon, breeching, partially or totally, the conditions under which the institute had received its license.


29. In the light of the above, the Synod wonders with anxiety, along with the many who would like to see the higher education sector in Lebanon reformed, at the repercussions to the blatant violations against the reverence of the law, the reputation of private higher education, the rights of students who are being deluded and the best interests of the public; and also wonders as to the justifications of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education's passivity regarding these violations [21].


c. Domination of the Logic of Commercial Investment


30. The Synod realizes that the right to assume the affairs of private institutions of higher education was confined to legally authorized nonprofit organizations and societies, and that the competent authorities have recently[22] authorized stock and anonymity companies, which by nature seek profit through investment, trade, and real estate activities and others, to apply for permission to establish higher education institutions by the mere act of adding to their statute a clause stipulating that one of their aims is to spread higher education.


The Synod considered that one of the most evident causes behind the crisis faced by the higher education sector in Lebanon today is the large number of recently licensed institutions of higher education. This makes investment logic and commercial considerations prevail over mission logic and the concept of service higher education would consequently deviate from its authentic traditions, its noble educational ends and its sublime humanistic aims. When glancing at billboards spread alongside roads and in public squares, or looking at advertisements presented by the audio-visual and printed media, one notices the distasteful methods these institutes employ in promotions.


d. Avoiding Generalization


31. While documenting and denouncing these infringements, the Synod is careful not to generalize, because it is known that in Lebanon many institutions of higher education respect the law, safeguard academic customs and traditions and abide by their requirements. It is also known that in Lebanon there are university institutions seeking to assume the role of the authentic university, undertaking their educational mission of scrutinizing and transmitting knowledge, developing scientific research, and fulfilling their role in serving students and society in the best way possible. The Synod appreciates the concern shown by these institutions in providing for the demands of excellence in education and ensuring quality, and sees in this concern cause for reassurance of the soundness of their state and of the future path of private institutions of higher education in Lebanon. The Synod stresses that the motive behind the documentation of these violations is not aimed at renouncing the enormous services provided by respectable institutions of higher education, nor their brilliant and promising accomplishments, nor the painstaking efforts dispensed to develop their curricula and equipment and to raise the standard of their programs and degrees. Rather, the aim is to indicate some of the lurking spots of flaws in the private higher education structure and to identify the features of some aspects of the government’s failure to organize it, and to record some of the infringements committed by its institutions, with the aim of warning against the consequences of mounting chaos, and to call for reform.


Third: Lack of Coordination among Maronite Institutions of Higher Education


32. The Synod is aware that the five Maronite institutions of higher education, namely the Holy Spirit University in Kaslik (USEK) affiliated to the Lebanese Maronite Order, Notre Dame University (NDU) affiliated to the Mariamite Maronite Order, the Antonine University affiliated to the Antonine Maronite Order, La Sagesse University affiliated to the Maronite Eparchy of Beirut, and The Holy Family Higher Institute for Nursing and Physiotherapy affiliated to the Maronite Nuns of the Holy Family, have established relations with each other in different forms and to varying degrees. As for their general characteristics, its state is that of other institutions of higher education in Lebanon, they are just about limited to circumstantial relations existing in confined fields.


33. Though it commends the efforts deployed within the Council for Coordination between Catholic Higher Education Institutions, the Synod perceives that they outline some of the features of the desired cooperation in many fields, yet are unable to attain this cooperation in a fixed institutional framework or to put it into applied, organized and comprehensive practice.


34. The Synod affirms the necessity for coordination and the importance of cooperation among Catholic institutions of higher education that the Second Vatican Council presented in the document Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education) stating: “Cooperation is the order of the day. It increases more and more to supply the demand on a diocesan, national and international level. Since it is altogether necessary in scholastic matters, […] From greater coordination and cooperative endeavor greater fruits will be derived particularly in the area of academic institutions. Therefore in every university let the various faculties work mutually to this end, insofar as their goal will permit. In addition, let the universities also endeavor to work together by promoting international gatherings, by sharing scientific inquiries with one another, by communicating their discoveries to one another, by having exchange of professors for a time and by promoting all else that is conducive to greater assistance”[23].


35. The Synod reminds that the Apostolic Exhortation A New Hope for Lebanon, after stating that the Fathers of the Episcopal Synod for Lebanon took note of the fact that numerous Catholic institutions of higher education exist, issued three basic recommendations, which were extremely brief yet extremely deep in significance as to how relations should be between the said institutions. It first called for no further establishment of new institutions after that day, so as to eliminate the inherent dangers of multiplicity. Secondly, it called on existing institutions to foster amongst them a spirit of solidarity and consultation in order to promote cooperation and coordination among them. It then issued a third recommendation which went beyond the first two, establishing a fundamental change in the pattern of relations between these institutions, with merging and unity as its mainstay, as stipulated by article 108 of the Exhortation: “In Lebanon there are different academic centers, some of which provide religious studies. These centers have their own history and tradition; yet the increase in their numbers could lead to many difficulties in certain circumstances in the absence of the spirit of consultation and cooperation. It would certainly be beneficial if each Patriarchal Church would not seek after today to establish new centers, but at times, seek to merge these institutes and unify them, so that the effective potentialities may be consolidated, allowing some centers to add specializations for the benefit of believers (…) as the Fathers of the Synod also envisioned that institutions of higher education have a limited number of students compared to those in the State university. In order to face the major cultural challenges, provide a better education and greater effectiveness in research and in the formation of educators of the future, it is very important that the different university institutes consult amongst themselves and submit common propositions, and when required, congregate and allocate certain university specializations to particular institutions. We call upon all Bishops to unify their efforts to support existing institutes; we also encourage the committee emanating from the Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon concerned with scholastic and university affairs to foster cooperation between the different educational institutes, in order to avoid the squandering of personnel, effort and financial resources”[24].


36. The Synod recalls the stands His Beatitude the Patriarch took in calling for the implementation of Vatican II recommendations inquiring: “Where are our Catholic universities with respect to these recommendations? There could be, between them and some universities outside Lebanon, twinning or the likes but we have not heard of any cooperation between Catholic universities inside Lebanon. This is a wish dear to the heart of the Church, and especially the Church of Lebanon. This is what we have wished and encouraged on more than once. However, wishes remained wishes and no more. Every university seeks to exhibit its own individuality without giving another glance at other universities in Lebanon, not even Catholic ones”[25].


37. The Patriarch urges all Maronite institutions of higher education to abide by the aforementioned texts and their recommendations.


38. He also called upon these institutions to avoid falling into the trap of rivalry, which could distance them from the spirit of their ecclesiastical mission making them repeat themselves, thus failing to achieve academic excellence.


39. The Synod calls upon all these institutions to foster perpetual consultation amongst themselves and continuous coordination, that their common positions regarding educational and patriotic issues will reflect a common vision and be part of an agreed upon strategy embodying an academic policy with unified aspirations and aims.


40. The Synod also urges Catholic institutions of higher education to work swiftly and diligently to open up continuous channels of communication and avenues of fruitful dialogue between their administrators, professors, students and graduates in order to coordinate their efforts and cleverly invest all the human energy and financial resources, facilities, and equipment in productive and successful common projects, materializing their common desire to serve the Church and society.


Chapter Three:


Recommendations and Suggestions


First: At the General International Level


Ensuring the Good Quality and Democracy of Higher Education


41. The Church vehemently declares that good qualitative higher education must not be a luxury or something exclusive to a fortunate minority, but a right to all those qualified to pursue it. Its acquisition becomes, in many cases, an urgent necessity and a life-long need.


42. From the right of citizens in general, and its own children in particular, to be educated, the Church draws her right to intervene with all concerned, government officials, civil society, and parents, to ensure the democracy of higher education, to be vigilant to insure its quality and standard and the high standing and accreditation of its diplomas. That is why our Church calls upon the competent authorities in every country in which her sons and daughters are to be found, to assume their responsibilities and to take the necessary practical measures to well organize public and private higher education, insuring its quality.

Second: On the Lebanese Level in General


1. Drawing up a National Policy for Higher Education


43. In the light of the preceding, the Synod considers that foremost in measures that the Lebanese authorities are called upon to undertake, is to draw up a national policy for higher education. This is because, despite some published documents[26] containing a great deal of data and elements necessary for drawing up this policy, we can say that Lebanon still lacks that policy since it has not yet been ratified and has not been officially adopted. We must admit that the state and those responsible for institutions of higher education are remiss in estimating the role of strategic planning in the development of higher education and the role of the strategy of higher education in developing the country at various levels. That is why the Synod prompts the spread of the culture of planning, projecting, envisioning, and introducing the guidance element into the national general policy drawn up by the state for higher education in Lebanon, and for reinforcing the presence of futuristic dimensions incorporated in the specific policy each institution of higher education sets for itself.

44. The Synod considers that drafting out this policy is the government’s responsibility; rather, it is one of the most prominent roles relegated to it. However, it must include in the drafting all parties concerned[27].

45. The Synod considers that this national policy must draw, in its fundamental beginnings, from the precepts of the Lebanese Constitution and the provisions of international treaties emanating from the United Nations in general and UNESCO in particular. It must take into consideration the reality of education in Lebanon and the heritage specific to it, especially regarding the strong partnership between the public and private sectors in providing educational services. It is to base its general principles on the right to education, the freedom of education, and equal opportunities, and to seek, in its aims, the comprehensive and integral human development, the promotion of human dignity and respect for human rights and fundamental liberties, and should facilitate spiritual openness and social integration.

46. The Synod considers it necessary that this policy be based on serious scientific studies, research, and investigations based on reliable figures and statistics that are well analyzed and investigated. It is therefore a must to annually provide accurate, clear, transparent and reliable information databases available to all through various communications and media means[28].

47. The Synod notes that drawing up this policy is necessary for decision-makers whether in the public or private sectors, that they may base their choices and decisions on it:

a)   Enabling the government to extract from it the principles and the factors necessary for promulgating legislation specific to the organization of higher education and to take, in their light, licensing decisions for the erection of institutions of higher education, or adding new faculties or institutes or new specializations to existing universities; and,

b)   As for institutions of higher education, they could rely on them to form their objectives, build their plans and draw their strategies, whether for the erection, modernization or expansion of the institution through opening new faculties, or adding new specializations, or redirecting programs to meet the needs of the labor market…

2. Promoting Coordination among Institutions of Higher Education and between them and the Ministry of Education and Higher Studies

48. In the countries of the world that are vigilant in nourishing higher education, raising its standard, and enabling it to carry out its functions and assume its humanistic and national responsibilities, numerous are the associations that link, in different forms, institutions of higher education. Thus, the Synod encourages a real, efficient and fruitful coordination between public and private institutions of higher education. It considers that such coordination is conditional to these institutions being convinced of the necessity of making radical changes in their stands, one from another, turning away from affairs of rivalry and competition, toward cooperation and integration, competing for the attainment of higher academic and scientific standards.

49. The Synod particularly encourages a real, efficient and fruitful coordination in different fields and at many levels, between Maronite institutions of higher education and other Christian institutions of higher education that draw inspiration for their legislation and objectives from evangelical teachings.

50. The Synod also encourages a real, efficient and fruitful coordination between institutions of higher education and the Ministry of Education and Higher Studies. It considers that this coordination is conditional upon the conviction of the institutions of the role of the Ministry, and conditional upon the conviction of Ministry of the positive role of these institutions. Also, that it is the Ministry of Higher Education in its two sectors, public and private, and that all institutions of higher education, public be they or private, which provide services of a public nature, all these instructions are actually national institutions.




3. Forming a National Council for Higher Education


51. The Synod believes that forging relations between the Ministry of Education and Higher Studies and private institutions of higher education on the principle of partnership and on sound, modern and democratic bases, requires a radical review of the structuring of the Higher Education Council and the introduction of core amendments into its operating mechanisms. This will serve to correct the flagrant and disgraceful flaws that plague it and to restore equilibrium, enabling it to carry out the enormous duties that await it as well as those it will be entrusted with. This is true, whether in the direction of devising a national policy for higher education and academic scientific research, or in the direction of defining needs and priorities and preparing plans to satisfy them, or in the direction of setting up standards for recognizing diplomas and evaluating the kind of studies leading to their procurement, or in the direction of reviewing or resolving matters pertaining to applications for the licensing of new institutions of higher education.


52. The law organizing higher education assigned wide powers to the Higher Education Council, in fact, encompassing all affairs of private institutions of higher education. These wide powers, unrestrained by sound limits, render the Higher Education Council the only reference in this domain, a reference with absolute powers.


53. The formula stipulated by the law regulating higher education for the formation of the Higher Education Council[29], actually renders it an official council able to review all matters concerning private institutions of higher education. These institutions are not represented in the Council, and the opinions of presidents of existing universities are sounded in a consultative non-binding capacity, and in any case, their opinions are not sounded except at the time of a review of a licensing application for the establishment of new universities, faculties, institutes or branches. Presidents of existing universities do not attend the Higher Education Council meetings nor do they have the right to vote on its decisions, and the Higher Education Council is not bound by their opinions.

54. The Synod calls for the restructuring of this Higher Education Council according to a formula that ensures the representation of the presidents of existing universities or their delegates, in addition to the rest of the governmental and the civil society organizations concerned, thus, the Council would become the National Council for Higher Education, public and private.


4. Forming a National Accreditation Council


55. The Synod considers that the process of reform, or rather, of rescue, should not be restricted to the state. The dangers are common, the interests are common, and the responsibility is also common to the state and to the private institutions of higher educations.

a.       To begin with, these institutions must commit to compliance with the laws currently in force so as to contribute to the ending of the prevailing chaos;


  1. Second, these institutions must conform to the academic code of ethics in dealing with each other, with their teachers and students, and with society in general;


  1. They must realize that the true distinction among them stands between the beneficial, legitimate and amicable academic competition and the harmful and deplorable speculative commercialism, that is, on the one hand, between educational institutions aiming at spreading knowledge, enhancing values, and serving student and society, and on the other, the profit-oriented companies, with their overpowering investment logic, working toward the interests of the institutions' owners;
  2. Last, institutions of higher education must conform to standards of quality and excellence.


56. The Synod sees that in the shadow of the current law regulating higher education, which is no longer appropriate, and in the shadow of applied decrees deficient in accuracy, clarity and efficacy, and in the absence of a national policy for higher education, no institutions of higher education, whether public or private, can afford, nor is it in its interest to relieve itself of the obligation to present convincing evidence concerning the excellence of its curricula and teaching methods, the quality of the diplomas it bestows and the standard of its graduates[30].


57. The Synod perceives that the ideal and most efficacious solution may be in the erection of a national independent organization to evaluate quality and accreditation in higher education, to be composed of academic personalities who have been attested to as being people of specialization, qualification and experience in higher education, as are the procedures in the countries with a higher education heritage.[31] This organization is to periodically control the quality of the adopted curricula in the institutions of higher education, making appropriate recommendations leading to the raising of standards, improving quality, and promoting their harmony with the requirements of development, for the aim of assuring the quality of higher education and accrediting its diplomas.


58. The Synod is convinced that there is no substitute for this national council if we are really concerned about securing the high quality of higher education in our institutions. The accreditation council is necessary and beneficial to any institution in its relations with the parents, students, professors, benefactors and the labor market. It is likewise necessary and beneficial to the parents and students, the sectors providing employment to graduates, national and international bodies concerned with accreditation of degrees and their equivalence, and higher education institutions in Europe, the United States, and other countries of the world to which our students transfer to. This council is also necessary and beneficial since it can put an end to the prevailing chaos, elevating competition up to its academic level, and providing an incentive to improve quality and standard.


Third: Concerning the Lebanese University


The Synod reminds of the following facts:


59. The Maronite Church derives inspiration for her declared stands regarding the Lebanese University from her comprehensive view of that institution in the context of her overall vision of higher education in Lebanon and the position of her institutions in it, and the relation between the two sectors, the public and the private.


60. In one perspective, the Maronite Church is aware of the importance of the Lebanese University on the national level. It occupies a pre-eminent position on the map of higher education in Lebanon for various reasons. To name some, it is the only public university, and it is free. Through its many branches, it is the most widely spread in all the regions of Lebanon. In its faculties and institutes with numerous specializations, it draws more than half of the students enrolled in the institutions of higher education. Its students, with their diverse social, confessional and political affiliations, paint a true picture of the reality of Lebanese society in its richness and complexity.


61. In another perspective, the Church realizes that her Maronite professors, students, and employees in the Lebanese University are among their peers and part of her responsibilities. In fact, the whole university is a unique expanse in which she can witness to her openness toward all Lebanese, her belief in conviviality, her concern for the middle class and the poor, where she can fulfill it in her mission of service and charity that Christ is calling her to undertake.


62. The Maronite Church gives the issues of the Lebanese Universities and the rightful demands of its members what they deserve of attention, care and consideration. She is set on placing all its capabilities into the project of building up the Lebanese University and developing it, aiming at reinforcing this University, and consolidating the role of the Church, and her intellectual, cultural, and spiritual radiance by her presence.


The Synod Calls on the State to Provide University Campuses and Achieve Decentralization


63. The Synod believes, along with the specialization genre, that decentralization in the educational sector in general, has become an urgent demand harmonious with the expectations of the 21st Century,[32] and to achieve it with respect to higher education would meet dire academic and developmental needs. It also believes that adopting the principle of decentralization is conducive to the demands for building new integrated university campuses for the five branches of the University and extending them to all the regions of Lebanon. The Synod sees that the projects of merging branches or unifying them are political suggestions that do not serve the Lebanese University and are academically unjustified, and contradict with the principles of balanced development, administrative decentralization, and equal opportunities.

64. The Synod sees that the chain of campuses or university cities must be characterized by the best state-of-the-art equipment and libraries, networking and transfer of technology, the development of human resources, and evolving curricula. These campuses may create different forms of coordination in the framework of the one decentralized university or the universities brought together by a higher council of public higher education.


The Synod calls on the State to Respect the Autonomy of the Lebanese University, to Increase its Budget and to consider the Students’ Wellbeing.


65. The Synod stresses on the necessity of safeguarding academic freedom, freedom of associations and freedom of research, eliminating all forms of pressure and censorship.


66. It calls for respecting the financial, administrative and academic autonomy of the Lebanese University, through legalizing the status of representative bodies in faculties, branches and departments as well as at the level of the university council.


67. It calls for considering the wellbeing of students, whether in providing them with guidance and orientation, improving circumstances related to their formation, modernizing their curricula, and dealing with drop-outs and unemployment, or in respecting the freedom of their associations and freedom of movement.


68. It sees that increasing the budget is vital for the development of the University according to its needs. Article 14 of the World Declaration on Higher Education stipulates: “Government support of higher education and research remains an essential factor to ensure balance in carrying out educational and social missions”.


Fourth: Concerning Private Institutions of Higher Education


1. Promulgating a New Law for Higher Education in Lebanon


69. The government, on the one hand, must keep vigilance to assure the sound implementation of laws and regulations presently in force. On the other hand, it must assume its legislative responsibilities by drafting a new law regulating the private higher education sector[33]. The Synod merges its voice with those vigilant in safeguarding the role of the state as they are in respecting the freedom of institutions of higher education. Along with them, the Synod demands a rapid promulgation of a new, advanced, integral, homogenous law which takes into consideration changes at the local level. It must also take into consideration the challenges of globalization at the international level, encompassing all facets and the different dimensions of higher education, capable of being implemented, realizing ambitions, meeting needs, contributing to assure quality in education and sound progress in the future.

2. State Contribution to the Funding of Non-Profit Private Institutions of Higher Education


70. A large and increasing number of parents are unable to register their children in the private institutions of higher education of their choice due to the economic strains and the rise in tuition fees charged by these institutions. It is also no longer a secret that non-profit institutions of higher education are facing a great deal of difficulty in effecting the required balance between their income from tuition and their mounting financial burdens, which they have to carry in order to fund their development projects, modernize their equipment and installations, conduct scientific research, and maintain their distinguished position attested to in excellence. This socio-economic issue has other dimensions. It is closely related to the freedom of education stated in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights[34], and to the rights of the Lebanese citizen over his government that it may provide him with financial means that would enable him to exercise his legitimate right in choosing the institute he wishes his children to be enrolled in.


71. The Synod, as it reminds of the educational principles stated in the Human Rights Charter adopted by UNESCO, considers that it is the duty and right of the Church to defend the freedom of education guaranteed by the Lebanese constitution, and to defend the rights of her sons and daughters with the state. Additionally, it calls for the promulgation of legislation that would, in a practical way, ensure respect for that freedom and guarantee these rights.


Fifth: Concerning Maronite Institutions of Higher Education


The Synod Calls for the Preservation of the Syriac Language


72. The relationship between the Maronite Church and the Syriac language is deep rooted and well established, with liturgical, social, and cultural overtones. The Syriac language is one of the languages in danger of becoming extinct, and this is what prompted UNESCO to seriously consider undertaking initiatives to save and protect it. Thus, the Synod invites all Maronite institutions concerned to reflect upon the position they are required to take in cooperation with other affected Eastern Churches in this regard. It also invites them to ponder on the specific plan they aim to put into action and the practical measures they intend to carry forth to promote the Syriac language, and to work on realizing, publishing and translating the literary, intellectual, and spiritual heritage composed in the Syriac language and introducing it in school curricula[35].

The Synod Underlines the Necessity of Promoting the Arabic Language


73. The major reasons for promoting Arabic are:


  1. Promoting the Arabic language is in line with being faithful to the deep rooted Christian path and the decisive and all encompassing choice adopted by Maronites from generations past, especially since the days of Patriarch Douaihy and his works[36];
  2. Promoting the Arabic language through writing and translating meets a need with Arab Christians[37];
  3. Promoting the Arabic language is at the core of the national responsibilities of the Maronites, not only because it is the national and official language of Lebanon, but because Lebanon will not have the opportunity to keep its cultural resonance in the Arab World, if the Maronites neglect the Arabic language in their educational institutions, which would be contrary to their deep seated traditions;
  4. Promoting the Arabic language is at the heart of the spiritual mission of the Maronites, since it is an optimum tool linking them with the Arab and Islamic world. Their witnessing is first and foremost in Arab and Islamic societies, and they cannot fulfill it as they ought to, with the desired effectiveness, except in Arabic.


In the light of the preceding, the Synod urges all Maronite institutions of higher education to define the initiatives they can launch and prepare the projects they are able to execute in order to achieve these goals; and these initiatives and projects are plentiful and are attainable.


The Synod Underlines the Necessity of Mastering Foreign Languages


74. The Lebanese are unanimous today in conceding the primacy of the Arabic language, and the necessity to foster the teaching of foreign languages and to teach through them. Therefore, the Synod calls upon all concerned, Maronites in particular, to assume the responsibility of working seriously so that proficiency in foreign languages does not become a monopoly of the well to do. This is because the democracy of education, in its essence, rests on enabling all students, from all groups, classes, affiliations and regions, to learn and master foreign languages which have become an essential, rather, indispensable necessity for all citizens in modern societies. It is not permissible to deprive any Lebanese student from enjoying this right and this opportunity.


The Synod Encourages Adoption of Trilingual Skills and Underlines the Necessity of Maintaining Hierarchy in Foreign Languages


75. The Synod perceives that the number of Lebanese who add to their two basic languages, Arabic and French, a third language, English, motivated by their need to use it for various purposes, is increasing day by day. As for those who have received or will receive their studies at educational institutions, lower or higher, that have adopted English as the second language, rarely ever learn French[38].


76. The Synod fears that replacing French with English would prevent Christians from quenching directly from some of the richest and most important spiritual sources. It reminds that Christians in general, and Maronites in particular, are linked to their spiritual roots in a principal way through the French language, on which Christianity left an indelible mark, and through which they are directly and strongly connected to the Catholic theological heritage and its fundamental human values.


77. The Synod sees that individuals can, for materialistic benefit, emotional motives, or circumstantial needs decide to study one language and not the other. As for communities (nations, denominations, educational and ecclesiastical institutions), they cannot, and are not allowed to decide on replacing one language with another or on making one language prevail over another, without contemplation, vision and planning, and without considering the fundamental and supreme interests[39].


78. Therefore, the Synod calls upon all Maronite institutions of higher education and all Maronite schools to adopt trilingual education, so that students master English and French in addition to Arabic.


79. Equally, the Synod, calls on these institutions and schools to consciously and responsibly crystallize their linguistic choices that the interest of the Church in Lebanon, and even the interest of Lebanon, mandate their adoption, and to decide with deliberation and depth their linguistic policy and position and ranking of French and English within it, that their choices may come out enlightened, purposeful and sound.


1. Promoting Coordination among Maronite Institutions of Higher Education and Organizing it within the Sphere of the Body Delegated to Coordinate between Catholic Institutions of Higher Education.

80. Justification for calling for the promotion of coordination among Maronite institutions of higher education and organizing it within the sphere of the body delegated to coordinate between Catholic institutions of higher education are many and plausible. The possibility of responding to it is achievable despite the many huge obstacles and difficulties, if resolve materializes, intentions become pure, efforts unite and if precedence is given to the interests of the Church, the good of the community and the country over all other. Therefore, the Synod requests the Episcopal Committee for Education and Culture to form a specialized committee of carefully selected members, and to assign it to prepare an accurate and comprehensive study of the different aspects of the issue, directing it to focus its research primarily on the body that will undertake the task of coordinating between the institutions.


81. The Synod is of the opinion that this committee should look into the duties of the body taking charge of the coordination between institutions. Foremost, its main duty is to participate in the studies required in formulating the policy of the Catholic Church concerning higher education in Lebanon, and supplying the proper ecclesiastical authorities with the studies, research, statistics and reports they need in the educational subjects and files and in all the other fields and domains. In addition to this main task, this body may also be asked to assume other functions, such as representing member institutions before the ecclesiastical authorities, communicating, consulting and negotiating on their behalf with the government, its ministries, and its institutions, being vigilant to maintain respect for the freedom of education. Other functions are: participating in drafting laws and decrees specific to higher education and the amendment of present texts, coordinating between member institutions of higher education and the Secretariat General of Catholic Schools. Still other functions are: coordinating between the member institutions in activities, common research, and the exchange of teachers, and in all fields and at all levels, and the job of planning to establish new Maronite or Catholic institutions of higher education, or adding new specializations in already existing institutions, or expanding their geographic scope through the erection of branches in the regions.


82. The Synod affirms that the committee needs to study the competence of the coordinating body and the scope and extent of its authority and the nature of its decisions, whether they would be issued for consultancy and recommendation or as binding and effective, and defining the kind of decisions that member institutions are to present before this body to obtain its approval.


83. The Synod perceives that, in the light of the duties of the coordinating body, its functions, responsibilities and authority, the committee is to specify the conditions, qualifications, experience and the attributes that must be present in the coordinator of the body and his assistants, as it must consider the necessary sources capable of providing the said body with the funding it needs to assume the burdens it is shouldering.


2. Formulating the Educational Charter for Maronite Institutions of Higher Education


84. The Synod deems it necessary that Maronite institutions for higher education should participate in formulating a reference document, to be tantamount to a Church charter for higher education, to be declared in its council.


Needless to say, the studies on the subject of higher education from which benefit may be derived to formulate this charter are numerous and rich in data and vision; most importantly are the different documents issued by UNESCO. However, some reference texts in this context are indispensable and must be recalled as follows:


·    Gravissimum Educationis (On Christian Education) issued by the Second Vatican Council and published in the Synodal documents;

·    The Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae (On Catholic Universities), promulgated by Pope John Paul II, 15 August 1990;

·         The Apostolic Exhortation: A New Hope for Lebanon[40];

·    The constitutional text or the collection of constitutional texts of each Maronite institution of higher education, whether they be charters or laws, or other texts (lectures by university officials, annual messages addressed to university staff and students, speeches delivered on occasions or major stages of the university and its journey)…etc.


85. The Synod urges Maronite institutions of higher education to derive from these studies in general, and from the reference texts in particular, the fundamental elements to be drafted in their charter. They should also derive from these elements the basic dimensions that constitute their unique character and distinguished mission, keeping always in mind that they are:


-          Universal,

-          Catholic,

-          Maronite,

-          Functioning in a nation called Lebanon, lying on the Mediterranean shore, in the heart of the Arab world, facing, in solidarity with the Arab world, the common challenges and common fates, in the course of globalization,

- Carrying out their mission with the dawning of the third millennium.


86. Every one of these five constituents contains a grouping of data and entails a number of responsibilities. So, the Maronite higher education institutions are required to reflect upon the contents of these components and their various consequences, and to seek to meet the requirements of each of the constituents, not neglecting any one of them, nor making any one prevail over the others. They must realize that their identity is complex and the circles of their belonging numerous: how then can they make allowance for each of the constituents of this identity, and how can they reconcile between all the different circles of this belonging in an integral, creative cohesion? How can they remain faithful to their heritage and the constants of history, and at the same time accept the facts of modernity and participate in it?


Sixth: Concerning Parents of Students


1. Encouraging Maronites to Seek Higher Education


87. The Synod encourages all Maronites, clerics and laity, on a wide scale, and encompassing all social categories, to zealously, resolutely and intensely seek higher education, in its three types – academic, technological, and technical-vocational and in its different specializations, and at all levels and degrees. Since this approach is part of the Maronite Church’s educational policy which constitutes, on the scholastic and university levels, one intertwined, integrated and homogenous entity, the Synod calls for the fostering, in youth circles, starting from school years, a thirst for knowledge and education and the desire to gain it, mastering the prerequisites and requirements of its attainment.


2. Encouraging the Establishment of Information, Orientation and Guidance Centers in Maronite Schools and Parishes


88. The Synod encourages the erection of information, orientation and guidance centers in Maronite schools, along the pattern in use at an ever increasing number of schools to help students choose the suitable path, be it academic, technological, or technical-vocational, and consequently, the appropriate university specialization.


The Synod also calls upon Maronite parishes to give special attention to the guidance centers affiliated with them in order to inform parents of students as to their rights and duties in the educational field in general, and particularly at the university level. In their capacity as citizens, they are involved in the educational issue and are called to exercise their duty and their role in becoming acquainted with the educational conditions in their country. And, they are able – if they care to gather the necessary information and facts and to form adequate opinions – to support the government on the one hand, and on the other, to hold it accountable for the educational policy being employed, and the plans laid down to execute this policy. Consequently, they are able to evaluate this policy and participate in its formulation, orientation or refinement.


In their capacity as parents, they are also responsible for selecting the appropriate institution of higher education for their children as well as their field of specialization. Accordingly, the Synod encourages all parties concerned to provide parents, in all guidance centers established by our Church in her parishes for this purpose, with the basic information, specifications, and criteria which would help them form an opinion concerning the competency of a chosen institution and the quality of the education it provides. Parents are to be supplied with accurate information on the available specializations and their requirements, and job opportunities in each field, so that the chosen course or specialization may be commensurate with the potentials and qualifications of each student on one hand, and the needs of society on the other. This way, the choice does not remain, as is often the case, a hasty and random affair, based on wrong assumptions, contributing to increased unemployment or migration. Instead, it would contribute to the development of the individual in all his dimensions and potential, ensuring his wellbeing, and securing his future, contributing to the development of society in all its different sectors and regions, and realizing sweeping justice and a balanced development.


Seventh: Concerning Students


1. Collecting Accurate and Comprehensive Statistics on Higher Education


89. The Synod deems it beneficial or even necessary to assign specialized and serious centers or associations to prepare accurate and comprehensive statistics on higher education in Lebanon, encompassing all its aspects, especially the number of Maronite students and their distribution over higher education institutions in Lebanon and abroad, as well as their specializations, the number of graduates, the professions they practice, the positions they hold, and the countries they work in….


2. Working on Curbing the ‘Brain Drain’


90. During the recent events, there arose the phenomenon of emigration of university students seeking education in safer environments. This tendency has escalated in the last few years despite approval of the Taif agreement for several reasons. The most important of these are economic strains, widespread unemployment, and complaints concerning the political set up in which the youth are unable to express their opinions freely, participate in decision-making, enjoy justice, equality and their country’s full independence and sovereignty.


Church officials have often warned of the acuteness of this phenomenon and its seriousness. How much we are in dire need to realize the necessity of dissuading our students who are pursuing their university education abroad from taking up final residence outside their country. We must encourage them to return. How much we are in dire need to work swiftly and seriously to limit the brain drain.


3. Creating a Social Solidarity Fund for University Grants and Loans


91. There is no justification for Maronite institutions of higher education to continue their educational activities unless they distinguish themselves through their high standard of education, one which will lead them to practically become an exclusivity for the intellectual elite. However, it is not an exclusivity for the rich, nor is it allowed, from either a Christian or a national point of view, to be transformed into a closed club where the children of the poor are prohibited from joining merely because of financial or social considerations. The Apostolic Exhortation recommends: “I encourage Catholic communities to develop true solidarity between themselves and with the youth they shepherd, that no young person may interrupt his education merely for material or financial reasons. In this regard, we appreciate the generosity of educational institutions and the faithful, and we hope they will continue the sharing in the sphere of scholastic and university formation together, for the benefit of needy students and those coming from rural areas who usually find difficulty in finding housing and other basic necessities”[41].


It goes without saying that these institutions cannot exempt their students from paying the tuition fees which overwhelm parents, because what they collect from them constitutes the main portion of the income that provides them with the elements of sustenance and continuity and some elements of development and growth and the financial conditions that are indispensable in their strive to achieve excellence. We must undertake swift and effective initiatives to financially support these institutions and to help the needy Maronite students in obtaining university loans and grants that would enable them to make tuition payments at the Maronite institutions or other private institutions of higher education in Lebanon. The most urgent of these initiatives is to establish a special fund for this purpose from which needy Maronite students may benefit. This fund is to be supervised by a specialized association which would organize and administer it and set standards that would be of benefit to students. This association needs to be vigilant to develop its resources, and make the decisions it deems necessary to help brilliant Maronite students in acquiring scholarships to continue their higher education or research abroad. No Maronite student endowed with the appropriate educational requirements is to be denied the opportunity of joining an institution of higher education in Lebanon, just as no Maronite student achieving distinguished educational proficiency is to be denied the opportunity of joining the finest institutions of higher education or scientific research centers abroad.


92. Our Maronite Church has been a leader in this realm, and the history of education in Lebanon and the East has credited the Lebanese Synod of 1736, held at the monastery of Our Lady of Louaize, its glorious deed of recommending the realization of compulsory and free education: “We urge, by the guts of Jesus Christ, each of those presiding over eparchies, cities, villages, ranches, and monasteries, collectively and individually, to cooperate and join forces in popularizing this work of great benefit with increased determination and vitality, through bishops, chorbishops, priests, and superiors. They are to be concerned firstly with appointing a teacher where there is none, to register the names of the youth who are fit to acquire knowledge, and order their parents to take them to school even if they do not wish to. If these children are orphans or poor, the church or monastery must provide them with the necessary sustenance. If the church or monastery cannot do so, then offerings from believers on Sundays must be collected for them. The salary of the teacher is to be borne, in part, by the church or monastery (on condition the teacher is not one of its monks), while the rest is provided by the parents”[42]. We are called today to implement the decisions of the previous Lebanese Synod, and to emulate the initiatives of Patriarchs Joseph Estephan and Joseph at-Tayyan in devising modern means to ensure the needed income for the fund for student loans and scholarships, such as launching a well planned donation campaign in Lebanon and the Countries of Expansion. This campaign is to encompass, in addition to the Maronite eparchies and parishes, Maronite associations, societies, organizations, councils, and leagues, and companies and banks owned or managed by Maronites and the network of their friends and acquaintances. Also, to encompass encouraging the revival of the tradition prevalent with Maronite families represented in the Waqf endowments, but in its modern formula incarnated in the foundations.


Eighth: Concerning Maronite University Professors


93. Those concerned with higher education issues agree that, in a fundamental way, higher education rests on the shoulders of professors, and their role is not limited to conveying knowledge and imparting skills to their students, but also includes providing them with culture and civic formation, developing good citizenship, and raising their awareness of the human, moral, and spiritual values. They are to manifest their influence in them. Moreover, we find in the letters addressed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Catholic professors, and speeches delivered in their conferences, an admission by the Church of the critical importance of their mission, on the one hand, and defining the principles they must derive from practicing this mission, on the other[43].


What is the course of action required to help Maronite university professors in embodying the radiant and efficient presence of the Church in higher education?


This question leads us to reflect upon the responsibility of our Maronite Church toward her sons and daughters the university professors, and of their spiritual commitment and their ecclesiastical responsibilities. A healthy start for pondering on this subject would be the recalling of two concurrent truths: the first truth is that the Church is responsible for this enlightened category of her children, and is responsible before God, community and country, to fructify the deposit of faith in them, deepening their spiritual commitment, and firmly establishing their Church affiliation. The other truth is that teachers are also responsible before God, community and country, for the many talents they were granted, and are required to help their students through their teaching and research, and the absolute faithfulness to the requirements of university academic work, openness to spiritual values, and witnessing to the complementarity of reason and faith.


94. In the light of all this, the Synod recommends that the Church be concerned with their Christian formation and spiritual life, providing them with qualified spiritual advisors, suitable frameworks and appropriate programs. Thus, all professors will get to know, each according to his educational level, the doctrines of their faith and the history of their church, living their faith, grasping, without complications, the honor of belonging to a deep rooted heritage and a lively community, and to endeavor to live up to the responsibilities that such a heritage demands.


95. The Synod recommends the compilation of statistics on the number of Maronite university teachers, scientists, and researchers, and the preparation of detailed tables according to their specialization, and according to their distribution in the different institutions of higher education and research centers in Lebanon, the Arab world, and the rest of the countries of the world.


96. The Synod encourages Maronite professors to build up leagues and networks among themselves.[44] Evidently, the aim of this is not to create confessional blocs, but rather to bring together in the framework of these leagues or networks the teachers, scientists, and researchers, common between them are two partnerships: the scientific partnership exemplified by their specialization and the spiritual partnership exemplified by their faith. The object of these bonds is to provide the professors concerned with organized frameworks for exchanging experience, to participate in pondering on paradoxes produced by the specializations they teach, and the challenges they face while practicing their professions and research and the ethics and morals involved, and that, in the light of the requirements of education and the principles of their Christian faith, and their Maronite commitment. The coming together of Maronite academic teachers, scientists and researchers in the sphere of these leagues, is instrumental in producing abundant fruit at various levels: intellectual, professional, national and spiritual, and instilling in them the spirit of fellowship and weaving among them a web of friendships, fostering in them the spirit of cooperation, the culture of sharing, and institutional work.


97. Our Church is rich in university professors and they constitute a large and diversified elite of qualifications and capacities that the Church can benefit from in various fields. At the level of academic activity, the Synod recommends their participation in the pastoral ministry in the universities where their testimony might have a great impact and resonance. At the level of eparchies and parishes, the Synod recommends that they be made participants in their councils. However, the sphere of benefit from their knowledge, experience, and research, transcends academic eparchial and parochial limits to the national level. We all know that our Maronite Church is constantly called upon to express her opinion in many public affairs’ issues.[45] Who is more qualified than committed university teachers to prepare studies, draft reports and present suggestions that the Church authorities concerned can build their positions and choices on?


98. This invitation calling for the participation of Maronite university teachers in decision-making, includes the laity as well, as expressed by the Second Vatican Council in Chapter 4 of Lumen Gentium[46] (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) and in Chapter 3 of the Apostolic Exhortation[47]. We are all invited, shepherds and university professors, to be aware of our common responsibility, to soak up the culture of participation and learn to apply it in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel. We are rather invited to revive a well founded Maronite tradition, making it effective and modernizing it. Our Church has persevered, across long epochs of its history, in involving the Maronite laity in consultations, opinion giving and decision-making in all the major affairs of the community, including the election of its Patriarchs and bishops.


Ninth: Concerning Maronites Living Abroad


99. The Synod recommends the following:


a.       Establishing a league of Maronite university teachers in each country of the expansion, and creating continental and international unions for these leagues;


  1. Establishing a league of Maronite university students in each country of the expansion, and creating continental and international unions for these leagues;


  1. Appointing a special committee to search for Maronites immigrants who have excelled professionally and academically, and work on recruiting them for the Maronite universities so as to benefit from their experience and reestablish their bond with their country and Church;


  1. Organizing conferences with the participation of Maronite teachers and students living abroad;


  1. Setting up two internet networks:

·         The Maronite University Professors Network (MUPN)

·         The Maronite University Students Network (MUSN)


f.       Allocating scholarships for Maronites living in the countries of expansion.


  1. Teaching students of Maronite universities the languages spoken by the Maronites abroad. These languages, in addition to English, are Spanish and Portuguese;


  1. Encouraging Maronite university students abroad to study Arabic as a foreign language.






The Synod Calls for Safeguarding the Pioneering Role of Maronites in Seeking Education and Providing It


100. Justifications for seeking higher education have changed since the days of the Maronite College in Rome, and its aims and the means of providing it, its institutions, curricula, methodologies, and its requirements have also changed… In fact, since the decade of the nineties, toward the end of the 20th Century, and even now, at the start of the 21st Century, we are witnessing radical changes in the concepts, aims, requirements and operating mechanisms of this education for various reasons dealt with at length by UNESCO in its literature, having analyzed them and studied their outcome, something we do not need to elaborate on. The constant here, is that the Maronites are required to persevere in the quest for higher education, as in offering it, that they may continue to be, as they always were, pioneers in seeking it in the most prestigious institutions, pioneers in providing it in centers recognized for their excellence, always following in the steps of the students of the Maronite College in Rome and in Ain Waraka. Thus, Maronites would strike deeper root in their heritage, if they come to know it in depth, love it in sincerity and guard it trustworthily, and, if the children continue, following the examples of the fathers, the march of progress intellectually, educationally, culturally and humanely, by inheriting knowledge, critiquing and developing it.


The Synod reminds that the Basic Goal of Education is Service


101. Learning for the sake of others and for the purpose of serving them, is the essential principle that can be derived from studying the connection of Maronites to higher education, in centuries past: a constant and a lesson. We must comprehend the great achievements realized by the students of the College in Rome and the students of the Ain Waraka school and their pioneering role in the Lebanese and Arab Renaissance in the light of the mission to which they vowed to carry its torch with inspiration from the spirit of Christian openness that made Maronites transcend self to reach out and embrace the collective, to embark from the confessional to the expanse of the nation, to radiate from Lebanon on to neighboring countries and the rest of the East. It is imperative for every spiritual and educational renewal, in giving deference to changing epochs and disparity in concepts, realities and aims, to derive inspiration from these principles and be loyal to this spirit. Because, to renounce them or transgress on responsibilities would be treason to a noble and radiant history, would be oblivious to what Maronites are duty bound in assuming the renewed, distinctive and efficacious role on the level of higher education, in the future.







1. The Quality of Higher Education and its Democracy.

1. Since good and qualitative higher education in the opinion of the Church is a right common to all those who have the necessary qualifications, the Synod urges by all means to assure the democracy of higher education and endeavor to insure its quality and standard.

1.a: To endeavor to specify the concepts of the democracy of teaching and its quality.


1.b: To call on the appropriate authorities to take the appropriate measures to provide the proper organization of public and private higher education.


2. The Coordinating Panel between Maronite and Catholic Private Educational Institutions, and its Duties.

2. Since the Maronite Church is desirous that Maronite and Catholic institutions of higher education in Lebanon perform their academic mission with a spirit of partnership and coordination in the service of their common national goals, the Synod urges the Episcopal Committee for Universities to activate the Coordinating Panel between these institutions with a precise specification of its duties and authority on the ecclesiastical and national levels.

2. Some of the duties of this panel:


2.a: Participate in the preparation of the studies needed to draw the Catholic Church’s policy concerning higher education in Lebanon.


2.b: Supply the ecclesiastical authorities concerned with the studies, research, statistics and reports that they need.


2.c: Represent member institutions with the ecclesiastical authorities, and to speak, follow up and negotiate on their behalf with the government, its ministries and institutions.


2.d: Maintain respect for the freedom of education and participate in the drafting of laws and decrees specific to higher education.


2.e: Coordinating between member institutions on the research and teacher exchange levels.

3. Coordinating between Institutions of Higher Education.

3. For the sake of consolidating higher education in its two segments the public and the private, the Synod calls for establishing true coordination:

3.a: Between Maronite and Catholic institutions of higher education.

3.b: Between public and private Institutions of higher education.

3.c: Between institutions of higher education and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.

3. This matter is to be entrusted to the Coordinating Panel.

4. A National Council of Higher Education.

4. For the purpose of cementing relations between the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and private institutes of higher education on the basis of genuine partnership to secure the interest of this sector of education, the Synod calls for a fundamental reappraisal of establishing a National Council of Higher Education such that it is able to undertake its duties. Among these are drawing up a national policy for higher education to include promulgating a culture of planning, supervision, vision and introducing the guidance element.

4. Endeavor to partner private institutions of higher education in this Council through university heads or their representatives as members with full rights and duties enabling them to participate in voting on decisions.

5. A National Accreditation Panel.

5. With the Church’s concern for the quality of education at public and private institutions, and in view of the unsuitability of the present law organizing this sector in supervising this quality, the Synod calls for the erection of an independent national panel to evaluate quality and accreditation in higher education.

5. The Council of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops is to form a panel of well-known academic figures to convene periodically and its duties are to ensure the quality of curricula adopted by institutions of higher education, and to submit recommendations conducive to improvements.

6. Achieving Decentralization in the Realm of Public Higher Education.

6. Since achieving decentralization in the educational realm in general is instrumental in meeting urgent academic and developmental needs, the Synod recommends the adoption of the principle of decentralization at the level of the Lebanese University.

6. The calling for the construction of integrated university complexes in all the Lebanese regions. These complexes may organize certain forms of cooperation and coordination between them in the framework of the decentralization of the Lebanese University, or may become separate universities co- joined through a supreme council for public higher education.

7. Autonomy of the Lebanese University and Augmenting its Budget.

7. For the Lebanese University, which attracts more than half the number of students enrolled in higher education institutions, to perform the mission entrusted to it to the highest degree, the Synod calls on the authorities concerned to respect the autonomy of this University on the financial, administrative and academic levels. It also calls for increasing its budget for the purpose of developing it and intensifying scientific research in it.

7. Activating the role of representative councils and supporting them at the level of colleges, branches and divisions, as well as at the level of the University Council.

8. Promulgating a New Law Concerning Private higher Education in Lebanon.

8. Since the law governing the private higher education sector being adhered to since 1960 is no longer harmonious with the present day requirements of higher learning and recent developments, the Synod calls on the Lebanese authorities to expedite promulgating a new integrated law in this domain; a law that would contribute to insuring the quality of education and provide its sound futuristic development.

8. Follow up on this matter is to be left in the care of the Coordinating Panel.

9. Government Funding of Private Higher Education Institutions.

9. In defense of the freedom of education, which is protected by the Lebanese Constitution, and considering that higher education falls under the national interest, and due to the aggravated economic adversity, the Synod calls on the appropriate authorities to pass the necessary legislation that foster government participation in covering the cost of private higher education.

9. Follow up on this matter is to be left in the care of the Coordinating Panel.

10. Preserving the Syriac Language and its Intellectual Heritage.

10. Since the Maronite Church belongs to the family of the Syriac Churches, and since the Syriac language is among the languages threatened by extinction, the Synod calls upon the appropriate Maronite Church institutions to draw up an operational plan to revive this language, in cooperation with the rest of the Eastern Churches concerned with this subject.

10. Maronite universities are to endeavor to teach the Syriac language and its intellectual and literary heritage (in cooperation with Eastern science institutes abroad), and to persevere in their efforts to substantiate the literary, intellectual, theological and liturgical heritage composed in the Syriac language, to promulgate it, translate it and incorporate it in academic curricula.


Note: Endeavor to manifest recommendations 9, and 10, in Text 16.

11. Consolidating the Arabic Language.

11.a: Since the Arabic language is our national language and the means by which Lebanon can maintain its cultural radiance in the Arab World, as in the whole world, and since this language is the Maronites’ preferred instrument of communication with the Arab and Islamic World, the Synod calls on the Maronite institutions of higher education to specify initiative and prepare projects which would consolidate this language on the instructional, research and publications levels.

11.b: The Synod recommends that, in the countries of the expansion, the Arabic language should be the foreign language of choice for students of higher education at the universities they are enrolled in.

11. Maronite universities: as in Recommendation No. 10.


12. Adopting the Tri-lingual Method and the Need to Observe Prioritization in the Use of Foreign Languages.

12.a: Since mastering foreign languages has become a necessity for all citizens in the modern societies, and since English has started to spread in educational circles in Lebanon alongside French, the Synod recommends the adoption of the tri-lingual set-up: Arabic, French and English, and to employ this prioritization in the use of foreign languages in the light of historical constants, at least in Lebanon. The Synod also recommends that the Maronite Church maintains this linguistic policy.

12.b: The Synod also recommends the mastering of the Spanish and Portuguese languages to enhance communication with the Maronites spread out in countries, which are home to these languages.

13. Educational Charter of Maronite Institutions of Higher Education.

13. For Maronite institutions of higher education in Lebanon to perform their mission in the spirit of the Church, the Synod recommends that these institutions participate together in drafting a referential document tantamount to an ecclesiastical higher education charter. These institutions are to exercise care in drafting this document remembering that they are Maronite, Catholic, universities operating in Lebanon situated on the shores of the Mediterranean, in the heart of the Arab World.



14. Erecting Information, Direction and Guidance Centers in Maronite Schools and Parishes.

14. In the interests of enlightening the guardians of students as to their rights and duties in the educational domain in general, especially at the university level, and aiding students in choosing the appropriate academic, technological or technical-vocational, and thereafter, the university course, the Synod recommends the erection of information, direction and guidance centers in Maronite schools and parishes to cover these domains.

14. These centers are to place at the disposal of students and their guardians, the essentials, specifications and criteria that would enable them to evaluate the institution they choose, the quality of its teaching and the job market thereof, etc…

15. Spiritual Enculturation of Christian University Professors and their Participation in the life of the Church.

15. By giving attention to aid Christian university professors in embodying the presence of the Church in higher education, the Synod recommends, emanating from the Church’s responsibility toward them, to provide them with the appropriate spiritual formation and to effect their participation in the life of the Church.

15.a: Provide qualified directors to foster their Christian formation commensurate with their educational status.


15.b: Involve university professors, especially Maronites, in the framework of university pastoral work and on the level of eparchies and parishes, by preparing studies, drafting reports and present suggestions on which the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities may formulate their stands and choices.

16. Erecting University Professor’s Leagues in Lebanon and the Countries of the Expansion.

16. For the sake of exchanging experience and cooperation between Christian university professors, especially the Maronites, in the Patriarchal Domain and the countries of the expansion, the Synod recommends the establishing of leagues for those professors on the basis of the educational partnership represented by their specialization and the spiritual partnership represented by the one Faith.

16.a: Perform a census of Christian university professors, scientists and researchers in general and Maronites in particular, in Lebanon and worldwide.

16.b: Erect a league for Christian university professors in each of the countries of the expansion and establish continental and international unions for these leagues.

16.c: Commission a special committee to monitor Maronites of the expansion who have excelled in their academic or professional fields, and to endeavor to accommodate them as visiting professors in Lebanon and worldwide, to benefit from their experience.

16.d: Organize conferences with participation of Maronite teachers and students from the countries of the expansion.

16.e: Erect two internet networks for Christian and especially Maronite teachers and students.


[1]. For further information on the history of the Maronite College in Rome refer to the two-volume French book of Father Nasser al-Gemayel entitled, Les échanges culturels entre les Maronites et l’Europe (Beirut, 1984). Also, the special editions on the fourth centennial of the founding of the Maronite College: the special edition of Al-Manara magazine (Congregation of Maronte Lebanese Missionaries, year 25, 1st and 2nd issues, 1984), the special edition of Dirasat fil Adab walouloum al-inssaniya (year 12, 16th and 17th issues, 1985) which includes a series of seminars and lectures organized by the History Department in the faculty of Humanities at the Lebanese University (2nd branch) between the 10th and 13th of July 1984 and Volume VII of the series of lectures held at the Holy Spirit University in Kaslik (USEK) entitled The Fourth Centennial of the Maronite College in Rome: 1584-1984 (issued in 1985), and other studies.

[2]. Amongst them was Bishop Gibra’il Ibn al-Qilai (+ 1516), whose works on theology, history and law generally, and his ‘zajal’ poetry specifically, earned widespread fame. Concerning the life and works of Bishop Gibrayel al-Qilai, refer to what was written by each of Boutros Al-Gemayel Zajaliyyat Gibra’il Al-Qalai, in the series, Ousoul wa maraji' tarikhia, Volume II, Lahd Khater publications, Beirut 1982, and Hector Douaihy’s book in French, Un théologien Maronite: Gibra'il Ibn al-Qila’i, évêque et moine franciscain, coll. University of the Holy Spirit Library, XXXI, Kaslik, Lebanon, 1993.  

3. The use of the term ‘almost’, to show consideration to historical facts that prove that, from among the Lebanese, the Maronites were the most interested in higher education, but they did not monopolize it. Faithfulness to science dictates bringing attention to the fact that other denominations and groups, other than Maronites, also gave attention to higher education, and in Jabal Amel, as an example, but not restricted to, was an important educational center, including higher education, especially after the Mogul occupation of Iraq and capturing Baghdad in 1258, and the ensuing chaos in matters of higher education in the Najaf area (Refer to Nicolas Ziade: Ab’aad at-Tareekh al-Lubnani (The Dimensions of Lebanese History), 1972, p. 127.


[4]. 280 students graduated from the Maronite College in Rome during its first period, and approximately 1,000 individuals graduated from Ain Waraka School from the time of its founding until its definitive closure.

[5]. Father Sarkis at-Tabar, in his study highlighted the linguistic reasons and motives for establishing the College, basing himself on an old manuscript kept in the Vatican Archives (under no. 5528), saying: “After their education in Rome, these students may deepen the faith of the children of their Church, as their predecessors did, such as Archbishop Gabriel Qalai, who wrote many beneficial works. The Roman authorities also know that the failure of the Franciscan missions in the East in the second half of the 15th century, goes back to many essential reasons: difference between the missionaries mentality and that of the Eastern people, and the lack of means of knowing the languages of this area. So, upon completing their studies, these Maronites should become effective tools in the hands of the Apostolic See to spread the Gospel in these countries and should be mediators between the Church of Rome and the peoples of Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Ethiopia, and even Eastern India”. (Father Sarkis at-Tabar: Milestones of the history of the Maronite College in Rome, from the Dirasat magazine, published by the Faculty of Education at the Lebanese University,

[6]. A senior contemporary Orientalist, Father Michel Alard, wrote: “Bilingualism cannot be considered a gain unless it is a tool of dialogue requested and called forth continuously. If we take into account the requirements of development, it becomes clear that bilingualism can only be effective if it is accurately directed towards enriching and developing the mother language”. An article entitled At-Taarib (Arabization), published in the "Ashghal wa Ayyam" magazine, issue 39 (April- June 1971), page 35.

[7]. Father Sami Khoury, in a talk entitled “Maronite Jesuits, in the service of Maronite College” dedicated a large section to Father Gerges Obeid Benjamin who was appointed a Director of Studies at the Maronite College, students’ advisor, and professor of Eastern languages and who held these positions for twenty-four consecutive years. He said: “…twenty-four years are considered the golden age of the Maronite College due to Father Benjamin’s activities between 1727 and 1735, as documented in the Propaganda Archives …”- Volume VII of the series of lectures held at the Holy Spirit University in Kaslik (USEK) entitled the Fourth Centennial of the Maronite College in Rome: 1584-1984 (issued in 1985).

[8]. Father Nasser Al-Gemayel , Ain Waraka School on the Second Centennial of its Founding, Beirut, 1989. Archbishop Yousef ad-Dibs discusses in the introduction to the internal law of La Sagesse School, entitled, Fima Tou’alimouhou al-Madrasa wa kaifiyat at-Ta’leem, (On What Schools Teach and How to Teach), the languages in use there, indicating that they are the languages customarily taught at the major schools in Lebanon: “As for the international classes [meaning classes peculiar to the laity], the school will continue teaching the languages they usually teach in the major schools of our country i.e. Arabic, Turkish, Latin, French, English, Italian, and other languages if the condition of our country requires itMajarayat al-Abb Sibi’lani (Father Sibi’lani’s Diary), Vol. II, Archieve of Kreim, p. 478.

[9]. Quote from the letter published by Rashid Shartouni and then by Abbot Peter Fahed.

[10]. This section on the Lebanese University was written based on a number of references such as : statistics issued by the statistics department at the Educational Center for Research and Development, Issues of the Lebanese University and its Reform by Al Amin (Adnan), co-published by An- Nahar and the Lebanese Committee for Educational Sciences, Beirut 1999, and The Lebanese University: A self-assessment of the Lebanese University (2002- 2003), Beirut, December 2003.


[11]. Some of these buildings were convents, barracks or schools, and are now leased to the Lebanese University.

[12]. The number of Full-time cadre: 875: contractual: 893: contractual trainers: 575 (according to 2004- 2005 statistics).

[13]. The number of full-time cadre: 1,188: Number of contractual full-timers: 368: Number of hourly contractual: around 2, 327 (according to 2004- 2005 statistics).


[14]. This section was written based on several references and sources, notably the book At-Ta’leem al-’Aali fi Lubnan, (Higher Education in Lebanon), specifically the article Legal Licensing of Private Higher Education Institutions, by Henry al-Awitt, published by the Lebanese Committee for Educational Sciences, Beirut, 1997.

[15]. Decree number 9274 stated in Article 11 of the 1961 Law organizing higher education was only issued on the 7th of November 1996; thirty-five years after the issuance of the Law, despite the law itself stipulating it be issued after one year at the most.

[16]. We need to point out that this decree specifically contravenes article 6, which specifies the academic eligibility conditions for university presidents, or the deans of faculties and colleges and their professors.

[17]. The purpose behind granting licenses in two phases, whereby in the first phase licensing is conditional and does not become final and effective except at the end of the second phase, is to enable the Technical Committee in ascertaining, in the field, on the ground, that the applicant who was granted a conditional license to establish a new institution or innovate a new faculty or college in an already established institution, has indeed implemented accurately and comprehensively, all the stipulations pledged in the license application file, in matters pertaining to buildings, scientific equipment, the educational body, the technical and administrative staff, funding, and is quite prepared to receive students and start classes.

[18]. The Council of Higher Education often bypasses the opinion of this committee and presents to the Council of Ministers a recommendation to grant the license to whom the Technical Committee has recommended, after having studied the application and the file annexed to it, that it be rejected, rather, it does happen that the Council of Higher Education may present to the Council of Ministers a recommendation for the granting of a license to an applicant without referring it first to the Technical Committee for assessment, and it may make this recommendation concerning applications that do not have a file annexed to it, or concerning applications in which original files have been replaced by others rigged especially for that purpose, rather, the Council of Ministers may bypass the Technical Committee and the Council of Higher Education altogether, and issue decrees licensing institutes whose applications and files were not studied by the two concerned bodies or have recommended their rejection. All this comes to pass contrary to the precepts of the law regulating higher education and the precepts of Decree no. 9274, thus, replacing academic standards with denominational or political considerations involving preferential treatment and favoritism.

[19]. It is noteworthy that a great number of these decrees stipulated the correction of legal positions in the institutions that have blatantly violated the precepts of the law regulating higher education, and had started functioning before applying for licenses or, at best, before the issuance of their licensing decree. It is also noteworthy that this phenomenon is the clearest indication of one of the aspects of the flaws that simultaneously mar the licensing mechanism for private higher education institutions and the policy adopted by the Lebanese government in promulgating licensing decrees that allow cover-ups of infringements and granting status to those having committed them, and these are decrees that clearly violate the precepts of the law regulating higher education.


[20]. Article 8 of the law regulating higher education states the following: “No institute of higher education (be it university, faculty, or college) has the right to practice its functions prior to having been licensed”.

[21]. Although Article 16 of the law regulating higher education clearly stated the following: “Each institute which starts practicing its functions prior to acquiring the license stipulated in Article 8 of this Law shall be shut down by a decree, contingent upon the suggestion of the Minister of Education and Higher Education, to be executed through administrative channels.

[22]. Some years ago, the legislating and advisory body of the Ministry of Justice issued a pertinent consultancy (number 2700/98, dated 16th of February 1998).

[23]. The Second Vatican Council, Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education), No 12.

[24]. Apostolic Exhortation, A New Hope for Lebanon, Chapter 6, Article 108 of Part 3.

[25]. His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Peter Sfeir, in his speech delivered at the opening of the 12th Conference of Catholic Schools in Lebanon, at the Antonine Sisters' School - Ghazir, 21st of August 2004. Refer also to his homily at Pentecost on the 22nd of May, 1988, at the closing ceremonies of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Holy Spirit University (USEK) when he said: “How we long for a day when we can see the honorable Orders deploying efforts collectively the same as each one of them is deploying separately and independently in the field of education and culture, so that we can have a unified Catholic university receiving sustenance and support from both the local and Universal Church; thus, working to spread the Word of God and a culture perfumed by It ….”

[26]. The most notable of these documents: The Strategic Orientation Trends for Education in Lebanon, issued in 2000, and Towards Drawing up a Higher Education Policy in Lebanon, issued in 2001.

[27]. Among which we cite the concerned ministries, administrations, and government bodies (Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Ministry of National Economy, Ministry of Public Health…the National Institute for Employment, the Department of Central Census, the Civil Service Council, the Council of Development and Construction), the Economic and Social Council, the President of the Lebanese University, presidents of all private universities and institutes of private higher education, trade unions and syndicates (the syndicates of physicians, dentists, pharmacists, engineers, barristers), teachers union and associations, the Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture, the associations of traders, industrialists, banking associations, insurance companies, the Public Laborers Union, and a multitude of experts and concerned civil society organizations, etc.

[28]. This information must take the following factors, among others, into consideration:

1-The relation of higher education students to that of the population;

2-The rate of change in the number of students and graduates, and their distribution with respect to specializations and institutions of higher education;

3-The Institutions: their type, geographic location, languages taught, available specializations…;

4-The specializations and university degrees and their distribution over major fields of study and upon the institutions of higher education, and the distribution of students according to specializations…;

5-Current and future labor market needs; the demands of this marketetc.


[29]. Article 9 of the law regulating higher education stipulates the following: “A new council under the name of Higher Education Council should be formed within The Ministry of National Education, including: the Minister of National Education as president, the Director General of the Ministry of National Education as vice-president, with the membership of the Director General of the Ministry of Justice, The Lebanese University President, and the union's president or the president of concerned unions, when the institution to be established intends to issue degrees that allow their holders the right to join the appropriate syndicate.

“This Council is to review: That licensing applications meet stipulated legal conditions after considering the opinions of the presidents of existing universities at the time of reviewing the license application... If the application is approved, it is referred to the Cabinet of Ministers for a final decision; and, in all matters concerning private institutions of higher education stipulated in this law.

[30]. The fever of ongoing competition between institutions in the one country and the challenges imposed by globalization, in addition to the rights of the student over the institution he belongs to, and the right of the society over whose shoulders it rests, to assure them of the best benefits and services, obligates every institution to strive to acquire an accreditation certificate.

[31]. As for the proposed layout of the tasks and the authority of this national organization, and the composition of its members and its operating mechanisms, that are still debatable and amendable, and can be developed in accordance with the aspired to goals, and assure member qualifications, objectivity, credibility and effectiveness.

[32]. The report of the Jacques Delors Committee on Education for the 21st Century states that: “the Committee confirms the importance of decentralization in the field of education(....) Administrative decentralization and the institutions’ autonomy, most often, may lead to developing renewal and deepening it. The former director of UNESCO, Federico Mayor, considers that “education must be adapted to the needs of individuals, cultures, and social specificities in the prospect of flexible decentralization forms in managing the educational structures”.

[33]. The compelling reasons calling for the issuance of this law may be summarized with the following:

- The basic law that regulates higher education was issued on the 26th of December, 1961, in issue no 55 of the official gazette dated 27th of December of the same year. This Law contains general provisions (Articles 1 to 17) defining institutions of higher education, their types, prerequisites for their presidents, professors and students, in addition to requirements for recognizing the degrees they grant and prerequisites of licensing applications for the establishment of new higher education institutions or opening new branches of existing institutions. The law also contains special provisions (Articles 18 to 25) concerning the teaching of licensed and other specialization degrees in the Lebanese Law. Forty years have passed since the promulgation of this Law;

- It is no longer adaptable to the changes that have occurred after its promulgation, for after that date and on the international level, the higher education sector has witnessed great advances and deep alterations in its goals, programs, and patterns. The sector of higher education in Lebanon witnessed an incredible increase in the number of its institutions, exceeding 40, students, exceeding 100,000, and specializations provided, approximately 150.

-The 1961 law stipulated five practical decrees while only two have been issued.

[34]. It is worth mentioning that article 14 of the ‘World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century: Vision and Action’ (the declaration adopted by the last International UNESCO Conference) states that “the funding of higher education requires both public and private resources. The role of the state remains essential in this regard.”

[35]. It would be beneficial to review what Father Yoaquim Moubarak mentions in the document entitled Introduction to the Second Lebanese Synod, he wrote: “We have pointed enough times to the importance of the Syriac language in relation to Greek in understanding the Gospel and in the complex Islamic and Christian Arab heritage (refer to Chapter 2, no. 31; and Chapter 9, no. 75). Incorporating the Syriac language at least in the Secondary and higher education is a vital matter where it concerns Maronites and the rest of the Easterners belonging to the very same ‘marrow’” (p. 164).

[36]. Father Yoaquim Moubarak: “The responsibility currently imposed on Christians is nothing but consecration to the role they played in the golden ages of the Arab culture, and later, in the Age of the Renaissance, when Christians were the most eloquent of Arab writers, and when the Maronites were the most eloquent of Christian writers” (p. 163).

[37]. As Father Yoaquim Moubarak said: “Among the Eastern Churches, the Maronites have prime responsibility for activating the evangelical yeast in Arab culture, and then, for providing, in abundance, the bread needed by the Arab-speaking masses, and in their forefront are the millions of Christians” (p. 163).

[38]. Father Yoaquim Moubarak wrote the following in his Introduction to the Second Lebanese Synod: “Pertaining to modern languages, and despite the spread of English, or rather, because of the dissemination of this language through American influence, Lebanon’s belonging to the Francophone world is a precondition for the trek on the road to modernity and assuming its pioneering role in Arabism. The English-American language dispenses its speakers with French and drifts them into international subordination. As for French, which does not dispense with English, it provides Maronites with continuity on the path of modernity and pluralism, which surely represents the future of world culture.”

[39]. This insight is what Father Jean Haut-Camp urges upon. In concluding his lecture entitled The Linguistic History of Lebanon, presented in 1991, he called for serious reflection on the role of the French language and culture in defining Lebanon’s identity and destiny, saying: « Par le français, les libanais ne s’ouvrent pas seulement au monde, ou à une autre culture ; ils continuent leur propre culture (…). Pour le cas spécifique de la langue française, assimilée depuis des générations, en raison d’une constellation de motifs où se mêlent l’histoire, la politique, la religion et ce choix libre, donc en un sens irréductible à de pures raisons objectives (…), le français a été intégré à l’identité même du pays. Sans doute, le français viendrait-il à disparaître du Liban, que celui-ci ne perdrait pas son identité. Mais à coup sûr, il passerait par une crise spirituelle, je veux dire par là intellectuelle et morale, où son destin même serait en jeu. Quel homme raisonnable oserait prendre un tel risque à la légère, pour des raisons d’intérêt ou d’opportunité souvent temporaires et qui feraient oublier qu’un peuple, c’est son histoire qui le forme ».

Father Jean Haut-Camp, series of lectures organized by the Lebanese Association for the Development of Culture (ALDEC), published in a book entitled, The Lebanese and Francophone Cultures, (p. 46).

[40]. An essential remark needs to be made in this course. Mostly, reference to the 4th Section of the 3rd Chapter of the Exhortation is made. As for Chapter 3, it is entitled “A Synod for the Renewal of the Church;” as for the title of Section 4 it is “A Calling for Pastoral Renewal.” The articles that are referred to are: Articles 75, 76, and 77 dealing with the “Institutions for Higher Education” and “the Ecclesiastical Faculty of Theology.” It is also referred to in Chapter 6 of the Exhortation entitled “The Church in the Service of Society,” specifically Articles 108,109, and 110 falling under section 3 entitled: “Educational Service.Granted the necessity of referring to those articles that are directly related to the subject of higher education, it is equally necessary that the Exhortation as a whole constitute the basic and principle reference of the Maronite charter of the institutions of higher education which should be a source of inspiration for the charter's fundamentals & principles, for this Exhortation deals with all the causes and issues and domains of interest to the Catholic higher education in Lebanon.


[41]. The Apostolic Exhortation: A New Hope for Lebanon, Article 107.

[42]. Our Maronite Church was a leader in encouraging the sons and daughters of the community to participate, each according to his ability, in financing the school of Ain Waraka. Although the idea of its establishment came from the Estephan family and was funded by their Waqf, Patriarch Joseph Estephan succeeded in raising the school to the standard of a public institute. He made the whole denomination (through its spiritual leaders and political officials) involved in supporting this school. He introduced in item 8 of the deed the request stipulating the transformation of the monastery of Saint Anthony Ain Waraka into a public school for Maronite children, and then sent the request to his successors, the bishops, leaders and the elderly of the community to aid and support this benefaction in their country. When Patriarch Joseph at-Tayyan saw that the revenues from the real estate endowments of the school were not sufficient to support the students, he addressed pastoral letters to all Maronite parishes on the 10th of March 1797, asking for a certain fee to be collected for the school fund from each burial service “according to the financial ability of the deceased person’s family and its situation, for there is a difference between the wealthy and the poor and the middle class.” He set the fee of 5 piasters for the wealthy, 3 for the middle class, and 1 for the poor.

[43]. We would refer here to His Holiness’s Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae (On Catholic Universities), No. 2, made public on 15/08/1990, of which we quote the following short paragraph addressed to Catholic teachers working in non-Catholic universities: “Their task as academics and scientists, lived out in the light of the Christian faith, is to be considered precious for the good of the universities in which they teach. Their presence, in fact, is a continuous stimulus to the selfless search for truth and for the wisdom that comes from above.”

[44]. This could be similar, for example, to the Union of Arab Universities, the Union of Francophone Universities, or the International Union of Catholic Universities.

[45]. Such as the Electoral Law, privatization, civil marriage, abolishing confessionals, compulsory education…etc.

[46]. “For their pastors know how much the laity contribute to the welfare of the entire Church. […], their noble duty to shepherd the faithful and to recognize their ministries and charisms, so that all according to their proper roles may cooperate in this common undertaking with one mind.No 30. Now the laity is called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth.” No. 33.

[47]. “It is also of great importance that the believing laity be mobilized directly for intellectual research and studies, so that, with the support of their shepherds, they may develop a Christian culture in the Arab world. In order to assume their responsibilities, the laity must place, in their parishes and organizations, formation curricula in catechism, theology and spirituality, to aid them, in collaboration with the priests, in their pastoral activities, with the focus on sharing responsibilities.”