This research examines the relationship between the low salaries of Lebanese teachers and their job satisfaction, mental health, and subsequent effects on students’ learning outcomes. It investigates the factors contributing to teacher dissatisfaction and mental stress through interviews with teachers in schools in the Aley district. The findings will provide insights into the consequences of low salaries, inform policymakers, and guide the development of interventions to improve teacher well-being and student outcomes in Lebanon’s education sector.
Teaching is a noble profession that plays a critical role in shaping the future generation. However, despite the significant impact of teachers on society, they often face various challenges. Among these challenges, low salary has been a persistent issue affecting teachers’ morale and overall well-being. The purpose of this research is to explore the complex relationship between the salary of teachers, their job satisfaction, mental health, and the impact these factors have on their student’s learning outcomes and academic achievements. Additionally, this research will contribute to the ongoing discussions on the need for better compensation for teachers and their critical role in society. Policymakers and educational authorities in Lebanon can benefit from this research to develop evidence-based strategies to address the challenges faced by teachers and improve their working conditions. By recognizing the impact of low teacher salaries, especially in the Aley district in Lebanon, on job satisfaction and mental health, policymakers can allocate appropriate resources to ensure fair compensation, thereby promoting a positive work environment that enhances teacher morale and well-being. This, in turn, can positively influence student learning outcomes and contribute to the overall improvement of the education system. This study will work to answer the following questions:
How does the low salary of teachers affect their job satisfaction and mental health?
How does a teacher’s mental health and job satisfaction impact students’ learning outcomes and academic achievement?
Recently Lebanon entered a very hard era that resulted in a difficult situation for the country and its society and people. Rewinding to October 2019, the first days of the Lebanese revolution, the people were fed up with political instability and irresponsibility and decided to revolt. 2019 was also unfortunately the birth of the COVID-19 pandemic that was like an earthquake to the whole world and every single country was hugely affected by this pandemic. Lebanon was from these countries, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Lebanon, exacerbating the country’s preexisting economic, political, and social challenges. A lack of trust in the government and its ability to handle the pandemic led to protests that continued despite the lockdown and safety measures. The financial crisis worsened as the Lebanese pound lost 81% of its value. (ITP, 2020) Education in Lebanon as in every sector was naturally highly impacted, I was a high school senior during this time and I lived and noticed how these events negatively impacted education. This time introduced to teachers online learning, however, internet connection, electricity, and many other factors contributed to this first experience of online learning being non-effective. During this hard time and the difficulty we all face in trying to adapt to this brand-new battle, another war was coming our way, on August 4, 2020, every Lebanese person lived the hardest of times we all heard and saw one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in the world leaving 204 people dead and more than 6500 people injured, in addition to destroying the homes of over 300 000 people and several hospitals (Shallal, Lahoud, Zervous, & Matar, 2021), and every single Lebanese person traumatized. And as a result, the overall situation in Lebanon deteriorated more and more, the political instability worsened, the poverty rates and inflation increased, and if the economic situation before all these events was on the verge of collapsing, it had its final breath and we lived one of the biggest economic crisis in Lebanon since very long ago. Therefore, by the deterioration of Lebanon’s economy, teaching was one of the many jobs affected. Salaries were barely enough to provide basic needs. Even before the economic crisis, teachers in Lebanon complained, protested, and went on strikes about their salaries. But after the crisis, salaries sharply decreased leaving teachers in this hard situation, barely providing basic survival needs (Ghosn & Akkary, 2020).
Lebanon is now facing one of the hardest economic crises since the civil war. (Majaess, Kram, Chebel, Abi Tayeh, & Aoun, 2021) The economic crisis in Lebanon has had a significant impact on various sectors, including education. The country has been facing severe economic challenges since 2019, with a rapidly depreciating currency, skyrocketing inflation, high unemployment rates, and widespread poverty. The education sector in Lebanon has been heavily affected by the economic crisis. The government has struggled to allocate sufficient funds for education, resulting in budget cuts and reduced resources for schools and universities. This has led to a deterioration in the quality of education and an increased strain on teachers. One of the major issues the education sector faces is the decline in teachers’ salaries. With the devaluation of the Lebanese currency, the purchasing power of teachers’ salaries has significantly decreased. Many teachers are struggling to meet their basic needs and provide for their families. Some have even left the profession to seek better opportunities abroad or in other sectors, exacerbating the shortage of qualified teachers in the country. Furthermore, the economic crisis has caused a rise in tuition fees in private schools and universities, making education more inaccessible for many families. This has resulted in a higher dropout rate as parents struggle to afford the cost of education for their children. The lack of financial resources has also affected the infrastructure and facilities of educational institutions. Schools and universities have experienced difficulties maintaining their buildings, purchasing updated educational materials, and providing necessary technology for effective teaching and learning. The combination of economic challenges and the deterioration of the education sector has had a long-term impact on Lebanon’s human capital and prospects. The quality of education has declined, limiting the opportunities for students and hindering the country’s ability to develop a skilled workforce.
Teachers, in addition to supporting academic growth in the classroom, often function as community social workers, mentors, role models, and counselors (Springer, Parcel, Buamler, & Ross, 2006). That’s why researchers should explore teachers’ well-being. Within the teaching field, well-being has been described as “an individual sense of personal professional fulfillment, ” (Soini, Pyhältö, & Pietarinen, 2010). Additionally, evidence suggests that employee health and well-being are among the most critical factors for organizational success and performance (Kundi, Aboramadan, . Elhamalawi, & Subhan, 2020) However, according to the data collected in this research low salaries are a cause for teachers’ low mental health.
“Personally, I am not satisfied with my salary, it is not enough, we as teachers try always to give all we can, but unfortunately with high work and low salaries stress and anxiety became a normal part of our daily lives.”
Salaries although maybe not the only cause but highly affects teachers’ mental health. Low salaries can contribute to financial stress, leading to anxiety, depression, and increased stress levels. Adequate compensation, on the other hand, can positively impact teachers’ job satisfaction and overall well-being. Higher salaries can provide teachers with a healthier work-life balance, allowing them to engage in self-care activities and spend time with loved ones.
“Teachers give their hardest beyond and above for their students, so we will feel unrecognized and unworthy when we get low salaries; in addition to that when teachers get well paid, they will feel happy, able to have work-life balance and when overloaded with work and give their best to help students the best kind of teaching.” 
Teachers described that their salary is not enough to acquire some basic and daily needs which are causing lots of stress and anxiety among teachers, as 75% of the teachers that were interviewed had the same answer and their salaries were enough for 5 days- 2 weeks, teacher X, a mom of 2 said “Well as a teacher with a low salary, my salary is not enough for 1 week and I pay for my transportation from my own pocket excluding my salary as a teacher. So, I work hard with no reward which reduces my motivation to be a teacher.” On the other hand, teachers that are not financially independent and depend financially on their partner, parents, or others stated that they are not having that huge problem in providing needs because their basic needs are provided by others. In addition to mental health problems, the data collected showed that 50% of the teachers interviewed are not satisfied with their job, which is contributing to lower performance.
“I don’t feel satisfied with my salary at all which makes me not satisfied in my job and I thought of quitting sometimes and hesitated about teaching again but I always try to fight hard for my students, I am passionate about teaching but if every year is going to me make me this stressed not giving my kids the care and attention they need due to stress I am going to quit because my mental health and my kids’ mental health is my number one priority,” another teacher said:
“I am quitting next year, I am not satisfied with my job and I feel that I give way more than I receive I am a mom of 4 kids, so my salary is not enough to provide food for my family so I am quitting, staying home with my kids and trying to get an online job or a job as a private tutor at least I’ll be at the comfort of my house and being able to control how much money I really deserve”.
Employee job satisfaction is defined as an employee’s level of happiness at work. One of the key factors in the development of a company that contributes to raising employee productivity is employee happiness. Only when employees are satisfied with their jobs will they give their all to their work. The higher the level of satisfaction employees experience with their work, the better they might influence their performance will be (HARALAYYA, 2021). Job satisfaction holds massive importance for both individuals and organizations. When employees are satisfied with their jobs, they are more likely to remain with the organization, reducing turnover and the associated costs. Satisfied employees tend to be more engaged, motivated, and committed, leading to higher productivity and better overall performance. Moreover, job satisfaction contributes to the well-being of employees by reducing stress and anxiety, and improving their mental and physical health. It also fosters collaboration, teamwork, and effective communication among colleagues, creating a positive work environment. In summary, job satisfaction has a profound impact on employee well-being, productivity, organizational performance, customer satisfaction, innovation, and employer branding. The relationship between teacher performance and student academic outcomes is a topic of significant interest and research in the field of education. While it is widely accepted that teachers play a crucial role in shaping student achievement. Research confirms that teachers have substantial impacts on their student’s academic and life-long success. Drawing on data from teachers in four urban school districts, I document the relationship between individual teachers’ and students’ math performance, as well as their self-reported self-efficacy in math, happiness in class, and behavior in class. (Blazar & David, 2016). Moreover, according to the data gained from this study, all teachers agreed that there is a strong relationship between teachers’ effectiveness and the student’s academic achievement. “Of course, there is a strong link between students’ academic results and teachers’ effectiveness…” Therefore, based on these results and various articles and research there is a strong connection and link between low salary, mental health and job satisfaction, and student achievement.
On the first side of the barrier are the Lebanese teachers and their low salaries, which as was discovered in this study cause financial stress, the inadequate salaries of Lebanese teachers make it challenging for them to meet their basic needs, resulting in financial stress and anxiety. This financial strain can lead to decreased job satisfaction and mental health issues. Additionally, it can cause dissatisfaction with their profession, this dissatisfaction can result in decreased commitment, reduced enthusiasm, and a decline in overall job satisfaction. Mental health implications are another cause of low salaries, financial instability, and job dissatisfaction. It contains increased stress levels, anxiety, and depression among teachers. These mental health challenges can further impact their ability to effectively teach and engage with students. On the other side of the barrier is the impact of this problem on students. The job dissatisfaction and mental health issues experienced by teachers can negatively impact their effectiveness in the classroom. Reduced motivation and emotional well-being may result in decreased student engagement, less effective instruction, and a decline in overall teaching quality. Another effect is the impairment of the teacher-student relationship, teachers’ mental health and job satisfaction play a crucial role in fostering positive teacher-student relationships. When teachers are struggling with their well-being, it can hinder the development of supportive and nurturing connections with students, which are essential for ideal learning outcomes. Additionally, the effects of teacher dissatisfaction, and poor mental health can create a negative classroom environment. This may lead to decreased student motivation, increased behavioral issues, and lower academic achievement causing a disruptive classroom environment. Therefore, all these factors will result in a decrease in the education quality in the country so a quick solution should be found soon…
Unfortunately, no one is trying to do anything the economy is still the same, the dollar rate is still increasing. Today the 1$ is between 90,000 and 100,000 L.L, which it was before 1,500 L.L. Some private schools are trying to raise their salaries and giving their salaries in dollars, but this is increasing the school fee. However, the public schools and other private schools are still the same offering their salaries in Lebanese Lira (Bajis, Bajis, Akel, Bizama, & Chaar, 2023).
The economic crisis in Lebanon presents difficult challenges that significantly hinder teachers’ satisfaction, mental well-being, and, ultimately, academic success and learning outcomes for students. In light of these obstacles, policymakers and education stakeholders must collaborate on implementing measures that improve the financial burdens on teachers, enhance their job satisfaction and overall well-being, and elevate students’ educational experiences. It is imperative to address the primary societal issues and foster unity within the Lebanese community to restore our nation. By recognizing our shared responsibility and acknowledging the widespread impact of this catastrophe, we can collectively conquer the difficulties we face and actively contribute to finding solutions. Although existing research highlights the lack of current efforts to overcome this barrier, these findings serve as a powerful call to action for policymakers, educational authorities, and other relevant stakeholders in Lebanon. By recognizing the significance of addressing inadequate teacher salaries and their far-reaching consequences on the education system, concrete steps can be taken to alleviate the crisis, improve teacher well-being, and enhance student learning outcomes. The future of Lebanon’s education sector hinges on immediate action to provide teachers with the support and compensation they rightfully deserve, thus establishing an environment encouraging effective teaching and learning. Recognizing the pivotal role education plays in shaping our nation’s future, it becomes evident that to regenerate Lebanon, we must nurture a new generation that is determined to challenge the existing norm and break free from this cycle of suffering.
- Blazar, & David. (2016). Teacher and Teaching Effects on Students’ Academic Performance, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication.
- HARALAYYA, B. (2021). Employee Job Satisfaction at Big Bazaar. IRE Journals, 4(12), 1.
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- Kundi, M. Y., Aboramadan, M., . Elhamalawi, M. E., & Subhan, S. (2020). Employee psychological well-being and job performance: exploring mediating and moderating mechanisms. Emerald Insight, 29(3), 2.
- Majaess, G., Kram, A., Chebel, R., Abi Tayeh, G., & Aoun, F. (2021). COVID-19, the economic crisis, and the Beirut blast: what 2020 meant to the Lebanese healthcare system. 27(6), 1.
- Shallal, A., Lahoud, C., Zervous, M., & Matar, M. (2021). Lebanon is losing its front line. Journal of Global Health, 1.
- Soini, T., Pyhältö, K., & Pietarinen. (2010). Pedagogical well‐being: reflecting learning and well‐being in teachers’ work. Teachers and Teaching, 16(6), 741.
- Springer, A., Parcel, G., Buamler, E., & Ross, M. (2006). Supportive social relationships and adolescent health risk behavior among secondary school students in El Salvador. Social Science & Medicine, 62(7).
 Interviewer 1 (Kindergarten Teacher), Aley City, Monday, 12 May 2023
 Interviewer 2 (Kindergarten Teacher), Aley City, Thursday, 18 May 2023
 Interviewer 3 (Elementary Teacher), Aley City, Monday, 22 May 2023
 Interviewer 3 (Elementary Teacher), Aley City, Monday, 22 May 2023
 Interviewer 4 (Elementary Teacher), Aley City, Monday, 5 June 2023
 Interviewer 5 (High school Teacher), Aley City, Tuesday, 13 June 2023