Education in Libya is free but inaccessible

Education is one of the significant things that we’re entitled to, you can be judged based on what you had studied, where you had studied, and what your GPA entails. Most of us were encouraged to do better at school/ university. However, in many cases, you have the desire to do better, but you are not able to, which then leads to a negative psychological impact due to the pressure of not being able to fit in that “system”.

In Libya, each year, war deconstructed a piece of the university/school, and with it, youth’s goals were destroyed, their plans were changed, and their future was getting unknown. Libyan youth, like other youth in this world, wanted to do better and had plans, but having plans in a conflict-affected area is not the same as having plans anywhere else in the world; Waking up to the sound of a bomb, then a flow of bad news about closing educational institutions can undeniably hinder your progress and with it your mental health.

In Libya, years can pass with you hearing the same type of news, you can do your best to keep growing in other ways. For example, you can read, take courses, and you can also work. However, to be fully included in the system, you still need to obtain the certificate that you will be judged and classified upon.

Education in a conflict zone

In 2011, during the Libyan revolution, all educational institutions were shut down, many did not care, and others were so into the adrenaline of the experience, but as we all know, adrenaline in many cases can become addictive. Therefore, it became a habit. All educational institutions were shut down again in 2014, then 2018, then again in 2019, and your graduation day turns into a mirage, you can imagine it, you think you see it, and exactly when you think you’ve reached it, another event follows and it disappears once more.

The system of education in a conflict zone is inconsistent and unreliable. Therefore, in your plan, you will need to include two to three years of professional delay and a space for events you never expected would happen for yourself; the big issue here is that the classification system is set, it’s hardly changeable and others are not fully aware of the misery of being part of this educational system. Therefore, they still limit the opportunities for youth making them think that they are the ones who didn’t work hard enough. By now, you might be wondering what the situation is really like? so here it goes...

"Education is a fundamental right that should be maintained at all times, even in the most difficult circumstances"- Smith and Vaux, 2003. But in a state of chaos, who is held accountable for maintaining this right? To understand more in-depth what is holding youth back from achieving their goals, we have to look into a whole system that consists of many pillars, I will mention a few:

The first and most important pillar is the students; students are both a pillar and a result of the system, students are who the system is made for, yet they are not benefiting from it. On the contrary, they are being damaged by it; In the first half of 2020 and based on a report that was published by UNICEF Libya “at least 18 schools have been damaged as a result of the armed conflict, affecting around 15,890 children.” However, there isn’t enough information about the situation of education in Libya, which makes working on the issue much harder.

The second pillar would be the administrative aspect, which is the pillar that can keep the rest in control, this pillar wouldn’t even be able to hold control of the administration department itself due to the difficulties of accessing educational facilities during the war. For example, in the conflict that occurred in 2019 in Tripoli, the university of Tripoli got damaged, the administration decided to move to another educational institution so they can continue to work. However, all the important documents were still in the damaged university, which made the process of moving almost impossible and stressful. Imagine years of effort and hard-working exploding in a matter of seconds.

The last pillar is the professors; professors are classified into many types in this dilemma, but I will mention two; the first type is, professors who clearly want to give and help students, but they’re also greatly impacted, many professors were displaced and many of them lost their homes too. On the other hand, we have the professors who were merely lucky by not being residents in conflict zones, many of these professors refuse to help, even if they have the tools for it, they blindly admit that all these issues do not concern them, they choose to detach themselves from their humanity and their reality and follow a systematic procedure that wasn’t written for such harsh surroundings.

Postponed dreams

With all these insecurities, the Libyan youth still consider that all these efforts were made to contribute to helping the future of the country, a country that its system is youth deprived, yet due to all the challenges, the country forgot about them a long time ago.

We, youth, keep on trying to rebuild and adjust our plans, but soon enough, we will forget how, we will even forget why! The dilemma of not being able to access education, the fear of not being able to fit into the classification system results in the frustration of always readjusting without being able to predict results.

To conclude, let’s make it as a mathematical equation: Find the value of a society that’s built on outcasts, subtracted by employment, and multiplied by mental and psychological disorders?


Lamees Eyad is a program assistant at the FES office in Libya.

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