BEIRUT: The Lebanese Ministry of Education has warned schools in Lebanon against adopting copies of the book “National Education and Civic Upbringing” with the Israeli flag on its cover.
The book, which was reprinted by an unidentified publishing house for sale in the markets, had a picture of the UN building printed on its cover with the Israeli flag appearing among the flags of other countries.
The ministry monitored the copying and reprinting of textbooks issued by the Educational Center for Research and Development, including “National Education and Civic Upbringing.”
However, printing and distribution of official schools is restricted to the Educational Center for Research and Development based on the constitution and the Taif Agreement.
The press office of Education Minister Abbas Al-Halabi said that he had decided to take legal measures and prosecute “all those who committed fraudulent copying, printing, and distortion of the unified education textbook and violated the exclusive right of the Educational Center for Research and Development to reproduce the national textbook series.”
The minister called on the security authorities to take action to prevent this, which was mainly caused by the economic conditions, the decline in the value of the Lebanese pound against the dollar, and the failure of any company or publishing house to participate in the tenders designated for printing the national book.
Dr. Hiam Ishaq, head of the Educational Center for Research and Development, told Arab News that legal prosecutions had previously taken place against publishing houses that produced textbooks illegally some time ago, and warnings and rulings were implemented against them.
However, the owner of this publishing house repeated the violation — this time with a grave error related to the existence of an Israeli flag on the cover of the book.
The preparation of the textbook is subject to educational specifications stipulated in the documents of the Educational Center for Research and Development.
Dr. Ishaq said that the National Education textbook ranges from the first grade of basic education to the high school grade.
“The National Educational Center for Research and Development announces tenders for applicants from publishing houses wishing to print the textbook and the Ministry of Education buys it from them,” Ishaq said.
“But with the collapse of the Lebanese pound, and the fact that the state deals in the Lebanese pound only, no publishing houses applied this year to print the textbook.
“Previously, UNICEF printed textbooks for the past two years, but it informed us that this year it had no budget for this matter.
“It used to ask students in public schools who received textbooks for free to recycle them by giving them to students who would move to the same grade, with the exception of practical books that could not be recycled.
“In light of the chaos, publishing houses decided to print the textbooks and sell them, and this is against the law and violates intellectual property and the legal right to production.”
According to Ishaq, the National Educational Center for Research and Development is turning to the e-book for publication— a project that has moved to the application stage.
“The problem lies in the fact that not all public-school students have a device to use this application, and we may resort to a PDF version of the lessons required of the students.”