An initiative of solidarity

In BESKINTA, former pupils have run to the help of our school of Saint Vincent as we have decided to offer free attendance for two years in order to counter-act the tough financial situation. Therefore, all the pupils and the Alumni, got together to do something without any hesitation. Nowadays, in Baskinta, cradle of poets and of prominent exponents of Lebanese culture, a private institution which offers education to 400 pupils is at the centre of a solidarity contest. At this time of deep crisis, when the majority of parents delay the payment of school-fees or do not pay it at all, the Saint Vincent’s school, run by the Sisters of Charity of Besançon in Baskinta has decided, to offer free attendance for the second part of the current scholastic year, starting from January 2021, and for the entire next year (2021-2022). An opportunity offered to all pupils with a disadvantaged background, knowing that only 20% of pupils are able to pay the fees in these days. The initiative promoted by the Principal, sr Marie Harika, is motivated by the country’s economic collapse made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. In this time of need, it is not possible to shut the door and deprive many children of education. «On the contrary, the children most in need and with broken families have the right to receive quality education, she said in an interview given to “L’Orient-Le Jour”. It certainly is a particularly difficult challenge to respond to at this time of coronavirus, especially because of the costs imposed by the distance learning. »

The situation is made even worst by the fact that this small school, situated in the Metn area, which has formed medical doctors, architects, bankers, journalists and exported many talents, is already  facing a «catastrophic situation». For many years now the mission of educating children has been facing the difficulty of collecting the fees, and lately there has been also the difficulty of receiving the subsidy given by the State for some of the pupils. Nonetheless, the Institute never stopped receiving boarding children, mainly for social reasons or family insecurity, in collaboration with associations working for the protection childhood, and has continued to ensure the teaching of French as well as other languages from nursery to High school, besides offering courses of hotel-school, accounting and Information Technology. «In the last five years the Ministry of Education did not pay the subsidies due for our semi-free section, says sr Marie Harika. The same has happened with the contributions provided by the Ministry of Social Services whose payments are three years behind.» And on top of everything, on the one hand the Institute is not allowed to increase the school fees of the semi-free section, while on the other hand, according to the law 46, it is compelled to increase the teachers’ salaries.

«For a few years now we have been turning to our benefactors, asking them to help us deal with all these difficulties. Our costs have often been covered by donations coming from associations, firms, and individuals. Now, many schools are in the same situation and the donations are becoming fewer», she regrets.

However, the religious is still hopeful, «God will provide», she says. The initiative of solidarity promoted by the alumni of the St Vincent’s school  together with those of our schools in Baabda, Kfour and Saint Anne’s in Beyrouth aimed at involving people in Lebanon as well as abroad, is bringing new hope.

«We are working in Lebanon as well as abroad to support our school’s initiative to offer free education to the pupils for two years», Mirna Nakad Gemayel, executive of a luxury hotel and restaurant in France, explained to  “L’Orient – Le Jour”. «By supporting the school we care so much for, we support also the pupils’ parents crushed by the   economic and social crisis», she said.

The school needs about «436.000 Euros to accomplish its mission», revealed sr Marie Harika. In fact, the school aims at keeping the usual teachings’ high standard, promoting the pupils’ development, providing also care for those suffering from psychological traumas, and helping the neediest families with monthly food’s provisions, without neglecting the staff who have always been fully committed and kept teaching making use of distance learning …

The alumni hope to collect the sum of 150.000 Euros. In order to do so, Ms Gemayel has just launched the campaign on the web-site, while others have submitted the project to potential donors both in Lebanon and in France ». However, sr Marie Harika insists that the «crucial» aim of the Congregation of the Sisters of Besançon, established in Lebanon since 1903, «of providing high standard education to the poor as well as to the rich», should not be forgotten. For further information, you may contact sr Marie Harika by phone at 04/288005 or by e-mail: