Libya: the will to change

17 April 2012
The country needs in-depth renewal of educational policies


©UNESCO/ Lodovico Folin-Calabi
School playground in Libya with graffiti highlighting 17 February 2011, date of the beginning of the uprising.

The UNESCO team, including IIEP's Director, that visited Libya in March 2012 witnessed a strong motivation on the part of Libyan education leaders to reform the education system as a foundation of a society in which individual citizens are looked after.

In the wake of the revolution in 2011, the country’s education sector is facing immense challenges. These seem largely to be the result of inappropriate policies and lack of proper planning processes in the past, especially concerning basic and secondary education. Libyans are eager to reform their education system and improve the quality of educational services for children. They expect education to play a major role in building a political system and a society in which:

  • human rights are observed;
  • inequities are overcome;
  • national unity is preserved and strengthened;
  • development is realized, sustained, and benefits all Libyans within an international context centred on the knowledge economy.


Moving forward on concrete objectives

Two ministries have been created: a Ministry of Education (MoE) and a Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHE). Like all other ministries, these have been required to prepare brief “strategic plans” with a timeframe (December 2011 – June 2012) for the realization of the immediate or short-term objectives, namely:

  • the maintenance of schools damaged during the 2011 upheavals;
  • accommodating children of displaced families in schools in their original areas of residence;
  • reviewing curricula and textbooks, and printing textbooks, especially for history, civic education, and Arabic language.


In a medium- and long-term perspective, the Libyan authorities have identified many fields where in-depth analysis and improvements are needed:  formulation of new educational policies and sector plans for the reform of education, curriculum development, development and dissemination of early childhood and pre-school programmes, development of inclusive education, as well as of technical and vocational education, regulating private education, introducing e-learning in schools, training of teachers and education staff, and developing institutional capacity within the MoE and the education system as a whole.


Focusing on quality

Enrolment of children in schools, both girls and boys, does not appear to be a challenge at basic and secondary education levels. The challenge concerns rather the quality of education in general, and the relevance and type of educational provision at the secondary level. (There is a trend towards general, literary, and scientific secondary education, as well as secondary vocational education, and away from the present specialized secondary schools.)

The MoE is currently organizing consultation meetings in various provinces of Libya so as to engage education stakeholders and interested parties in society in discussions about the future of education in the country. The conclusions from these meetings feed into a national consultation conference to be held in April 2012. This conference should set the vision and the main goals for education, on which strategic plans can be based.

The UNESCO team came back with a strong motivation to support the country in meeting these objectives. The framework and the scope of UNESCO’s involvement are currently being discussed with the authorities. The country is still at an early stage of a transformative change.