Tripoli, 1 March 2013:
Investment in Libya’s education sector is . . .[restrict]urgently required, according to a report released by the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Inadequate facilities, including a lack of safe drinking water in a quarter of the country’s schools, and staff shortages for children with special needs, were just two issues highlighted by the study.
“The opportunity to improve the national education system is now,” said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF’s Libya Country Director. “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.”
The findings, from a comprehensive study of Libya’s 4,800 schools, show that, although the five pupils to one teacher ratio is good, significant shortages were noted in psychological support and special needs staff. The report pointed out that this was particularly critical because many children experienced psychological stress during the 2011 revolution. Fewer than one in 20 schools had provisions for students with special needs.
Facilities were also found to be inadequate, with 90 children having to share a single unisex toilet in 15 percent of schools. Fewer than one in 100 schools had a functioning toilet for children with disabilities.
Hygiene was a further problem, with 16 percent of schools not providing soap for children to wash their hands. A third of the country’s schools do not have a waste collection or disposal system in place.
Perhaps the most worrying statistic was that a quarter of schools reported not having access to safe drinking water for their pupils.
Resources were also found to be often substandard, with 50 percent of schools requesting more resources to improve the learning environment, including textbooks and teaching materials.
UNICEF congratulated the MoE for completing the research, which was carried out by a team of 300 MoE staff. “It is a great achievement to have this detailed information on all schools,” said de Rooy, “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 report also presented some policy recommendations for the development of comprehensive and effective educational policies. In the short term, these included the suggestion that the: “immediate critical needs have to be addressed to allow for the normalisation of Libyan schools.” Some 40 percent of Libyan schools sustained damage during the revolution and repairing these was shown to be an urgent priority.
In the medium to long term, school environments need to be improved, “through the adoption of Child-friendly standards and criteria for the design, renovation and construction of schools, including appropriate facilities and support for children with special needs.”
De Rooy said that UNICEF and the European Union would continue to support “broad-based reform efforts to improve the overall quality, access, and inclusiveness of the Libyan education system.” [/restrict]