Education in Libya - An Overview

The foundation of the Socialist People’s Republic of Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was lays on September 1969 on Principles of political decentralization after Mu’ammar al-Qadafi and a group of military officers seized power in September 1969. Qadafi envisioned Libya as a people’s democracy. In a series of essays compiled in his “Green Book” Qaddafi spells out a vision for what he termed the Third Way, or an alternative to capitalism and socialism.

Since its inception the revolutionary regime put great emphasis on education, continuing and expanding programs begun under monarchy. By the 1980s, Libya had made progress but lagging behind in terms of qualified teachers and enrollments in vocational and technical training programs. These shortcomings forced Libya to recruit professionals in education and healthcare from other countries.

Libya endorsed New Educational Structure in 1980. School curriculum redesigned with emphasis given on technical subjects; emphasis also given on humanities, Arabic language, and Koranic education. English introduced as a subject from class 7th onwards. The new system created the opportunity to create vocational and technical schools along with traditional academic schools at high school standard.

The new structure advocated the need for creation of technical and vocational institutions at territory level; this led to the establishment of higher technical and vocational institutions.  The General people’s Committee for Technical and Vocational Training was dissolved in March 2000 and transferred all its responsibilities to the regional people’s committee of the 32 Shbiat (municipalities).  Libya has a history of sending university students abroad. Many of them go on Libyan government scholarships.

Basic Education in Libya

Nine years of Basic Education is compulsory in Libya. Basic education consists of 6 years of primary school and 3 years of initial secondary school. Students are awarded Basic Education Certificate after successful completion of 9 years of Basic Education. Compulsory education has an open path through the successive educational stages, with assessment at the end of fourth grade, sixth grade and ninth grade. Students are promoted to the next grade if they score at least 50% or higher in each subject. According to UNESCO report, Libya has 98 percent enrollment for grade one.

Primary Education in Libya

Primary education is provided through grades I to VI.  Education at this stage is distributed over a period of 4 years and 2 years. Grades I through III receive 20 hours of weekly instruction, and grades IV through VI receive 23 hours of weekly instruction. Arabic language, Koranic studies and Islamic morals, Jamahiriyi society, mathematics, sciences, history, geography, art, music, physical education are taught as part of the curriculum. Teaching curriculum through grades 1 to 6 has recently been upgraded. The new curriculum gives much emphasis on study of science and mathematics and technological education.

Secondary Education in Libya

Secondary Education in Libya is provided through grades 7 to 12. The education is divided into a three-year cycle that concludes the compulsory, or basic period of education and a three to four year intermediate cycle.  The new educational structure adopted in 1980s allows dropout students to enroll in vocational programs of one to three years duration. These programs prepare students for the labor market and award Lower Certificate.

Lower Secondary School imparts education through grades 7 to 9. Curriculum taught in these schools is Arabic language, Koranic studies and Islamic morals, Jamahiriyi society, English, mathematics, history, geography, biology, chemistry, physics, principles of technology, art, music, physical education. Students are awarded Basic Education Certificate after successful completion of grade 9. 

Upper Secondary School (Intermediate Education), which extends over a period of three to four years is provided at general (science and arts) and specialized secondary schools (economics, biology, arts and media, social sciences and engineering), and vocational training centers and institutes. Studies last four years in technical education, three years in general secondary schools and two to three years in vocational secondary schools.

The new educational structure has plans to phase out general secondary schools in favor of technical secondary schools that specialize in six main fields- basic sciences, engineering and industrial sciences, medical sciences, agricultural sciences, social sciences, and fine arts and media. The education prepares students for specialization in a particular field of specialization at university level and for labor market.  The net enrollment rate in technical upper secondary schools is gaining momentum.

The Upper Secondary Education is provided through grades 9 to 12 / 13.  The curriculum taught during first year of the intermediate cycle at general and specialized schools is common. All students are taught Islamic education, Arabic, English, politics, physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, art, physical education and military education. At General Secondary School students get choice to choose from literary and scientific branches. The literary branch covers history, geography, philosophy, sociology; the scientific branch covers physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics; the common subjects to both branches are religious education, Arabic, English, physical education and military education. At specialized technical schools students specialize in a particular field in the last two years. On completion of course work students appear in Final Exams. Students who successfully pass the final examination are awarded the Secondary Education Certificate.

Vocational Education in Libya

Vocational Secondary Education in Libya is provided through Intermediate Vocational Training Centers. These centers provide skill-based training to students. Students who attend two to three year programs are awarded the Intermediate Training Diploma, which gives access to vocational training centers and institutes but not university studies. Vocational schools offer programs for 44 different vocations in seven major fields: electrical; mechanical; carpentry, building and architectural; inclusive female vocations; service industry; agricultural; marine fishing.

Higher Education in Libya

Universities provide higher education in Libya. Education is available in both modules i.e. general and specialized. Libya also has scientific research centers for conducting research in different areas of humanistic and scientific disciplines. The higher education system in Libya comes under the control of state authority. Libya also has institution to provide higher education through vocational training institutes and polytechnics, which is not based on University System. Education at this level is called Non University Higher Education. Training is provided in social and technical disciplines, which prepares students for job market.
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