Shehayyeb Dismisses '$9 Million' Suspicions, Urges Students to Limit Demos to Afternoon
Caretaker Education Minister Akram Shehayyeb on Thursday attributed “claims about the loss of $9 million in the file of refugee education” to “a shortage in funding according to UNICEF.”
“To boost transparency over the file, I sent a memo to the Central Inspection Board asking it to look into the file to unveil the truth,” Shehayyeb said at a press conference.
“The process of distributing funds earmarked for refugee education which the ministry receives from donor nations through UNICEF is subject to a mechanism that is pre-defined by UNICEF,” Shehayyeb added, noting that the said mechanism is subject to audit by “an independent international auditing firm tasked by the U.N.”
Commenting on the student demonstrations that have engulfed Lebanon in recent days as part of the massive anti-corruption protests, the minister advised students to “return to schools until 2:00 pm everyday and rally instead in the afternoon.”
“This is your right and this would be a healthy approach that would preserve your educational course and academic year. Students are the builders of the future and the country and their right to express their opinion is sacred,” Shehayyeb added.
Thousands of students took to the streets across Lebanon Thursday to demand a better future as anti-government protests now entering their fourth week continued to spread.
Pupils carrying their schoolbags picked up the baton from thousands of women who ignited the main protest site in Beirut on Wednesday evening by banging pots and pans to demand their rights.
Grievances initially focused on poor infrastructure and abysmal public services quickly grew into an unprecedented nationwide push to drive out an elite protesters say has ruled the country like a cartel for decades.
Thousands of university and high school students streamed into the streets of Beirut and other towns to boost the protests.
"All of them, all of them are thieves," chanted one pupil, perched on the shoulders of a schoolmate outside the education ministry.
Setting off coloured flares and waving Lebanese flags, students blocked off traffic to demand the wholesale removal of the current political class and its sectarian-based power-sharing system.
"What if we had a young, educated, ethical and competent political leadership?" was the question asked on one placard.