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Toula: the humble village, setting new horizons in new times

6. Education

The school in Toula is very old and may have existed in some form from the period of the Crusades, and the names of the headmasters are well documented from 1858.  Their names, terms of office and place of origin are: Arsenius from Mahmarsh (1858-75), Estephane Al-Hasrouni (1875-87), Youhanna Younis from Hmeis (1887-90), Yaacoub Shbat from Mazraat Toufah (1890-92), Khali Jilwan (1892-99), Abdallah Barakat (1899-1905), Antonios Sarkis Zadeh (1905-10), Gerges Wakim Younis (1910-14).   Until the 1930s, when the financial support for the school became the responsibility of the Lebanese Ministry of Education, the school was run by the senior priest and his wages were provided by the members of the village and the church.  Their salary was in the region of 800 Turkish piastres.  Source: Barakat, 332-3.

There has been teaching in neighbouring Bhiret Toula since the time of the first priest, who died in 1860, and he undertook teaching in addition to his spiritual duties, and a school with a teacher has existed from 1883.  Prior to this, the children attended the school in nearby Toula. Source: Barakat, 314.

In 1932, during the period of French administration, records show that the school in Bhiret Toula were administered in French, with some use of Arabic. The system of organisation was based on the Frères School, Tripoli.  There are also several schools in neighbouring villages. During the period of the French mandate, the education system of France, which had developed particularly as a result of the reforms of the French Emperor Napoleon (1804-15) in the early 19th century, as well as under the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, was introduced into Lebanon.  This was not only in the public school system, but also in private schools run by brothers (les frères) of the Roman Catholic religious orders, such as the Frères School in Tripoli.  This means that older people in the village have a French influenced education and know French, which even persisted after the end of the French mandate during the early years of the independent state of Lebanon.

After World War I, at the school in Toula, some of the teachers were: Rouhana Lattouf from Basloukit (1919-22), Youssef Farhat (1923-4), Hanna Boulos Jilwan (1925-9), Badih Jilwan and Doumit Shbat from Mazraat Al Toufah.  In the early 1950s, there were two schools, the official public school, whose teachers were Antoine Qozhaya, Hanna Seb’elani, Fr. Antoun Shbat, and the Archdiocese school, whose teachers were Fr. Boutros Saad, Elisabeth Jilwan, Odette Barakat.  Because the village was becoming increasingly less inhabited in winter, by the end of the 1950s, both schools had closed.  Since then, any children who live in the village have attended the school in the neighbouring village of Bhiret Toula until it closed down in 1974.

Sources: Zgharta-Zawie Online Magazine; Barakat, 314ff

Aimée Hanna from the village, who was a contestant in the Miss Lebanon 2003 contest, undertook her secondary education at Saint Coeurs School in Kfarhbab and then undertook a double major at the Lebanese University in Beirut in Business Management and Theatre. 

Source: www.arasale.com/secure/missleb.html