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Opinion: Libya: Breaking the Unbreakable
23/02/2013 03:35:00
By Zanjabeel Almahdawi

Everyone has a dream, everyone plays a role, and everyone has to fight for something. No matter how big or small you were. You have some good you're trying to accomplish and bad you're trying to avoid. The main ones that almost everyone has is achieving success and keeping away from failure.

Since I was young, my big dream has been being an educated lady. At first, it was that I wanted to be a doctor. I think every child had that dream. I also wanted to learn English. Then, my dreams’ ship was hit into the rocks of reality. I realized how I could never study medicine as it was a dead end choice. So, I decided to start working on my linguistic skills. It started when I went to high school.

I am not going to say much about middle school. It was not very inspiring. I can't remember anything but tears I shed, hate I felt and injustice I underwent. I even hate remembering how the so called "teachers" intentionally insulted us. They would call us names, slap us on the face and cause so much hurt and pain. The problem is that the pain wasn't only the physical that would be healed with time; it was that which you spend a lifetime remembering and reliving.

I started high school with a lot of hope that the rough days were over and it's a new start. Only then, I realized how fun and memorable middle school days were. Compared to high school, middle school was nothing and I mean what I'm saying.

I learned something new. It was how despised, hated and socially disliked Hijabies were. Of course, we're all Libyans and we're all Muslims. Yet, the Islamic uniform of Hijab was different from one to another. It was not a problem to wear it but still have your bangs shown. The unacceptable thing was the "Abaya" or "Jalabeya". Everyone had negative thoughts about them. I still remember how my friends and I would cry in misery over not being allowed to enter our class and being ill-treated.

That had lasted for a year and a half, until the Libyan revolution of February 17 started. At that point we thought, like everyone else, the change of the regime would change the system the schools were run by and the dark days are finally over. Surprisingly, they have not. In fact, the same respectful lady who used to fine us came everyday to do the same job she had spent her life doing.

That wasn't the only problem. The miracles that fictional novels' authors couldn't be creative enough to write about had all happened in the class we suffered to get a seat in. The past simple of the verb "see" would be "seed" and before reading any passage, that no one could understand, the teacher would comfort us by saying, "will be to the understand". You have got to be very careful if they said something like, "today, I don't fine", translation, I'm not fine or I'm not doing fine. Our ambition was to once see a real live inspector. It didn't happen though. But we can still dream, can't we?

We can still dream of an actual educational system. A system that's consisted of real teachers, responsible principles, and professional inspectors. We can still dream of having the right to speak our minds freely without any unfair limits. We have the right to practice our religion and not feeling we're the odd ones out.

I cannot mention any names of those who contributed in this crisis. Not because I don't have the guts to do so. I just don't want to mention some names and leave others. I, Zanjabeel Almahdawi, speak on behalf of my peers who have become hopeless to cause any change or make any difference.

I can prove everything I wrote is true and that I didn't exaggerate anything. Maybe someone out there could help save the rest of the students. We need your support so please don't just read this article and do nothing. I cannot talk about everything but if you were one of those rare to find that kind of people, if you have any sort of love to your country, if you bear sympathy for those innocent victims, if any of what I wrote affected you, will you help us and break the unbreakable silence of wrong doing and help voicing the sound of right?

I am still fighting for my dream to be educated against all the obstacles that stood in front of me. I could write this article without asking for anyone's help. It took me sleepless nights and a lot of struggling. I could swear that 90% of my peers and most importantly my teachers would not understand the language of this article. Although it is very humble. This is an enough reason to call for attention to this emergency. We will never become a better country by raising money for the youth for being Libyans, but rather by raising the youth who would make money to build Libya.
by the name of allah the beneficent the merciful
thank you for writing this beautiful article.i finished high school in 1977 ,sadly things you describe here are not much different from back in those days.our education system and attitudes toward learning institution and methods ,have to completely overhauled.speaking about the education system shortcomings is only but the first step.we collectively need to demand greater investments in our youth,health ,nutrition,and treat them with care and respect ,and motivate them to become free-thinking,innovative,responsible ,and love their country.if we expect them to make the great sacrifices needed to build this nation ,and lead it forward into the highly competitive world.
we do not need thought control ,or physical punishment toward our children.
they are the most valuable resource we have.so let's treat accordingly.
my salam
love you libya
I compliment the young lady on her wonderful article.

As a young man, I often got agitated over the fact that disorder and injustice in society that upset me just too much did not bother the elders to the same extent. However, now that I have reached an advanced age, I can understand their feelings better. I know now that despite our strong wish, systems do not change overnight and improvements come about only over a fairly long time-period and that, too, through sustained, vigorous efforts by sincere and competent individuals.

By highlighting the problems, Zanjabeel has made a useful contribution to the educational reform campaign. Hopefully, others will join her and over time, things will change, for the better.

As for the 'specimen' she quoted in her article, we in Asia have done better than that.

With toilet facilities not available in trains in early days of railways, an Indian young man went to the toilet on the platform and unable to complete all formalities within the short time that the train stopped at the station, missed the train and to express his disgust, wrote a letter of complaint to the railway authorities. The letter is available in the Indian Railways Museum archives and also on the internet.

I reproduce the text below:

Dear Sir,

I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefor went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with lotah (vessel containing water) in one hand and dhoti (the traditional Indian dress comprising unstitched cloth that covers body from waist down) in the next when I am fall over and expose all shocking to man and female women on platform. I am got leaved Ahmedpur station.

This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train minutes for him. I am therefor pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to papers.

Your's faithfully servent,

Okhil Ch. Sen.

His complaint served a useful purpose in that it convinced the railway authorities to provide toilet facilities on the trains.

- Karachi

Zanjabeel, thank you for opening your heart and sharing your story. You've written this article very well and you should be proud of what you've achieved against all odds. Continue to stand up for what you believe in, strive for a better future and Insha'Allah you will succeed.
Well what shall we do dar sister. There is definitely a gap in our educational system that must be covered well.
It needs cooperation of all to put that on the right track.
Just keep fighting and give up please and rely on Allah
Dear Zanjabeel,
First, thank you for making the worthwhile effort of writing this article to raise some people's awareness of the tragic conditions of the educational system that deteriorated steadily over the past 43 years. The examples you cited about the lack of English language proficiency of your teachers are very damning. Imagine the dire consequences of similar deficiencies in the education of professional, practical disciplines. Libya, at the present, lacks the most basic prerequisite to even begin thinking of seriously reforming the educational system, and that is security, law & order. It's disgraceful for our politicians to be consumed by political vanity and fruitless infighting when the country is bleeding from every corner and our youth are crying for help.
Hi Zanjabeel Almahdawi
My Name is Akram Eltawil, I left my lovely country Libya in 1979, I know live in Australia,
With In that period I was very fortunate to meet people and learn many things about life,
One of the main things in life is to forgive, the teachers that taught you don’t know any different, they have been taught in that way.
The change begins with you, the first thing is that you recondense the current method of teaching is wrong, so do something about it, you already have. By righting the article,
Secondly stand up with your colleges, and demand a change,
Remember Libya has gone through a lot in the last 40 years and there has been a complete breakdown in the education, health, political and economic systems it all has a knock on effect,
Again it begins with you, you are the futter generation and you children, they will only teach what you teach them and so on, Libya has a brilliant opportunity, to become one of the leading counters in the world , it has wealth, assets, and a very small population in comparison to its land size,
We the Libyan people are very compassionate, helpful, caring, intelligent and ambitious.
So please don’t stand by and watch, like my generation has done, but act and do something about your future know.
Believe in yourself, Allah has given you the will and power to do anything you want , just believe, act, and trust in Allah and yourself and lead the way
I would love to help in any way I can.

Kind regards
Akram ElTawil
I am a Libyan American. I am also an English teacher at an American college. I really feel for this young Libyan woman, and I am so impressed by her passion, courage and determination to better herself and Libya. I do remember during the dark days of Qaddafi when he ordered English and French departments at Tripoli and Benghazi universities to be shut down and books to be burned in the name of Arabism and Islam. Of course, he was offensive to both Arab culture and Islam. However, Qaddafi didn't care. While he was so anti the English language and denying it to Libyans, he put his own children in the finest English schools overseas, mostly England.
The good news is that this thug is gone forever, and Libya can again be the country that we all wish for, a state built on law and respect for all Libyans with equality assured for men and women, Arabs and Berbers alike. Libya has a golden opportunity to become the envy of all nations. We can be a center of hope and opportunity for us and our neighbors to the east, west, south and yes north as well. But first we need to be up to the task. We can not allow ourselves to be easily led the wrong way following a self-appointed imam or a military man in the name of nationalism or religion. After all, we are all Muslim, and we all love our country and history. We don't need a reminder from anybody that we are Libyans and Muslim.
Using this same tactic, Qaddafi took advantage of our naive intentions to rule us with an iron fist for 42 years! I do remember, as a child, in Benghazi, Libyans going out on the streets celebrating Qaddafi's coup. They chose to have a military coup over a civilian government!! What a tragic mistake that was!!
The question is: are we going to repeat the same mistake again? Are we going to allow history to repeat itself at the expense of our children? Only time will tell. I certainly hope not! But I fear some of our people are far from able to differentiate between Islam, the religion of tolerance and education, and this new strange movement called Salafi. The choice is clear a democratic state built on law and order, or a backward state in the image of the Wahabis and the Talabans, where women like this young lady are nothing more than an object to be traded by ignorant men calling themselves Muslims! Libyans be aware of the dark forces dressed in black with beards and short pants waiting to take Libya back to pre-Islam Arabia. My email is osmtea@yahoo.com. You may respond, but please address the issue in an objective and respectful manner. Thanks.
Absolute truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I had been teaching in Libya and It will not be out of context to mention that- not only (your teachers "LIBYANS" but -many of the experts working with me in a Faculty of Medicine from other countries like,Egypt and Iraq would not understand what you have written in this article.
Wish and hope all Libyans should have the same attitude and zeal to become educated and learned.
I really felt every single word that you wrote, since it came out of your heart.

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