Minister of Education Dr. Ali Abid, outgoing Deputy Minister of Education Dr Suleiman Khoja and UNICEF Country Director Carel de Rooy during a press conference in Tripoli on the Launch of the Libya Nation Wide School Assessment, Tripoli February 28.
TRIPOLI: An assessment report released by the Ministry of Education (MoE) UNICEF on Thursday in Tripoli shows that some 40 percent of the schools in Libya were damaged in the 2011 revolution.
The assessment gives the ministry of education for the first time a complete overview of the exact state of all schools in the country. However, the report does not focus on the damage of educational quality that the Gaddafi regime intentionally inflicted on the educational system during this period. This may need more efforts to do both on the part of the Libyan government and also renowned international organisations such as the UNICEF.
The assessment was conducted by a team of over 300 MoE staff who visited a total of 4,800 schools collecting comprehensive baseline data on a range of indicators. They systematically recorded data on the state of education facilities and materials, water sanitation and hygiene facilities, provision for children with special needs, and protection and safety related issues.
The assessment was supported by GPS technology to add further dimensions to the analysis.
“UNICEF congratulates the Ministry of Education for having successfully completed this massive operation,” said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Libya Country Director.
“It is a great achievement to have this detailed information on all schools, and we hope the data will be used to target interventions that will improve the learning environment for all children, including those with disabilities.”
The assessment, that was first proposed when UNICEF began operations in Libya in 2011, showed that 40 per cent of schools had sustained various levels of damage and that the southern provinces were most in need of repair. Proxy indicators related to quality education such as students-teacher ratio, classroom size, and provision of facilities and materials indicated that the rural provinces are more in need than urban centres.
In 15 per cent of schools more than 90 children share one toilet (boys and girls jointly), while 16 per cent of schools do not provide soap for children to wash their hands, and one in four schools reported not having access to safe drinking water for children.
Though student teacher ratios remain good at 5 to 1, significant shortages were noted in psychological support and special needs staff, a gap that needs filling in light of the psychological stress many children experienced in the last year.
“The opportunity to improve the national education system is now,” said Mr. de Rooy. “With the assessment in hand, the Libyan Government is now equipped to make better informed decisions on effective and efficient investments to normalise and then upgrade the quality of education.”
He reaffirmed that UNICEF, with the support of the European Union, will continue to support broad-based reform efforts to improve the overall quality, access, and inclusiveness of the Libyan education system.
The Russian Federation, the Government of Australia, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Government of Poland, and the European Union also supported the assessment.
• Only one public school out of 100 have functional toilets for children with disabilities
• Less than one school out of 20 has provisions for students with special needs
• One out 20 schools provide education at kindergarten level
• 1 out of 4 schools does not provide drinking water
• 1 out of 3 schools does not have a waste collection/disposal system in place
• 1 out of 3 schools is located close to a highway without a safe crossing point
• 50 % of all schools have requested additional textbooks, visual aids and teaching materials to improve the learning environment
• There are 5 students per teacher on average
The report recommended that in the medium-long term, the key priority areas are the following:
• Improve the school environment through the adoption of Child-friendly standards and criteria for the design, renovation and construction of schools, including appropriate facilities and support to children with special needs.
• Promote Early Childhood Development increasing the number of centres and schools providing pre-primary education, applying relevant learning and development standards for children from 0 to 6 years and providing specialised training/information sharing for educators/caregivers and parents.
• Regularly update data to have reliable information in order to take the right decisions for education planning, management and financing.
• Use the data provided by the assessment to develop 3-5 year investment plans to enhance the learning environment for children in Libya.