Although there is no definition of inclusive education in the laws and policies that were reviewed, the vision of the Ministry of Education through the Department of Education and Integration of Disabled Groups (EIDG) is ‘Access to education for all without discrimination’. The Ministry of Education focuses on ‘working to raise the efficiency of the integrated educational process for all students, including special groups, and providing special educational needs for that’.
Special education needs
Those with special education needs include gifted and talented people and people with disabilities.
The EIDG, within the Ministry of Education, works to ‘assist students with disabilities to complete their education within the public school system’. The department provides ‘direct support to students and teachers and supplies them with tools, equipment and training necessary to do so’. The EIDG also works on preparing the appropriate school infrastructure and providing tools and means of facilitation, textbooks, audiovisual and touch tools, and other means of learning for each segment of people with disabilities.
Some evidence and data indicate that people with autism or mental disabilities can also access formal education in mainstream schools. Education services for disabled children and students are provided through schools affiliated with the Ministry of Education and rehabilitation centres affiliated with the Social Solidarity Fund Authority. Some institutions also provide education services to gifted and distinguished students. The Ministry of Education provides centres for gifted and talented students located in some parts of the state. These centres serve students from grades 8 to 12. Specialized evaluation committees are charged with selecting and identifying talented and distinguished students. The committees periodically monitor students’ talent and intelligence through special assessments.
Efforts are under way to identify and respond to children’s needs. For example, in October 2018, the National Technical and Vocational Education Authority launched the Gift of Sight campaign, which targeted a number of schools and performed eyesight checks for nearly 6,000 students. The aim of this campaign was to provide 500 pairs of glasses free of charge to students from low-income families.
Libya signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008 and ratified it in February 2018. It also ratified the Convention Against Discrimination in Education in 1973, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1989 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993. In general, there are no clear policies regarding inclusive education and integration, but Article 8 of the Constitutional Declaration states that ‘the government must guarantee equal opportunities and strive to ensure education for every citizen’. Article 60 of the 2017 draft constitution highlights that ‘the state is committed to ensuring the educational rights of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others’. The Ministry of Education also issued a decree (276) in 2019 regarding study and examinations for pupils and students in disabled groups. The decree came in response to Article 88 of the Regulation of Public Education Affairs No. 779 of 2018, as well as Articles 46 to 54, which are concerned with organizing mechanisms and rules for household education of people with disabilities. The ministry is also working to approve the annual implementation plan, which includes a comprehensive education vision and strategy to achieve the goals and objectives of the national education reform while integrating the demands of SDG 4 by 2030. This plan is published annually on the website of the Ministry of Education.
Article 18 of Education Law No. 134 of 1970 states that the Ministry of Education and National Guidance will ensure the establishment of classes and schools necessary for the education of students with disabilities and where they will receive the appropriate instruction and curriculum. In parallel, Law No. 5 of 1987 regarding persons with disabilities stipulates that every person with disabilities has the right to education in proportion to his or her condition and the degree of disability. In its Article 14, it states that minors with disabilities ‘are subject to compulsory education, and they have the right – and the duty – to receive this education at all times.’ Likewise, illiterate adults with disabilities ‘deserve literacy courses’. The law also stresses the importance of this group attending with their peers who are not persons with disabilities ‘provided that the disabling conditions ... are taken into due consideration when determining the curriculum and teaching issues.’ Finally, Article 16 states that a disabled person who successfully passes the compulsory stage of education and expresses a desire to continue his or her studies ‘is permitted to do so until the end of his position and ability.’ Law No. 5 of 1987 takes a ‘medical approach to disability’, suggesting a need to diagnose and clear defects in body structure or function to receive services, including education.
Libya acceded the CEDAW in 1989. In parallel, Article 1 of the 1975 Compulsory Education Law states that primary and intermediate education is compulsory for all children, boys and girls. The Ministry of Education established the Women’s Support and Empowerment Office in 2017 to increase women’s representation in leadership positions, support working women in the ministry, monitor violations, study the status of women in the education sector, empower women and build their capabilities and competence. This measure aims to achieve qualitative and effective participation of Libyan women in the education sector. Mainstreaming gender equality in education, water, sanitation and personal hygiene and child and youth protection programmes is one of the main goals of international, regional and specialized organizations working in Libya, such as UNESCO, ICESCO, ALECSO and UNICEF.
Ethnic and linguistic minorities
Arabic is the main language of teaching and education in Libya. Laws and regulations allow teaching in other languages, such as English and French, in the disciplines that require it. English and French are also taught as second or foreign languages. Article 2 of the Ministry of Education’s Decree No. 18 of 2013 approves teaching the Amazigh language in the areas where it is spoken. It recognizes the rights of cultural and linguistic groups in Libya, such as the Amazigh, Tebu and Tuareg, to teach and learn their languages by choice. The Ministry of Education is directly responsible for preparing the curriculum, teachers, textbooks and other resources needed to implement this decree. In 2018 and 2019, the Ministry of Education took several measures to strengthen the teaching of the French and English languages in lower and upper secondary education through several partnerships with recognized international organizations.
Displaced and migrant persons
In 2018, the Ministry of Education issued a decision to establish a committee concerned with the affairs of displaced and migrant persons inside and outside the country by its resolution number 1421 of 2018. This committee was assigned the task of developing appropriate solutions and measures to address the conditions of displaced people, such as students, teachers and ministry employees. The decree and subsequent circulars obliged education authorities at municipality level and universities to include students in schools close to their places of displacement, according to their academic levels, and to enable them to complete their academic year.
Some informal local reports indicate that some regional and international organizations, such as the International Organization for Migration, UNICEF and the Red Cross, have also participated in developing appropriate measures and procedures to facilitate the enrolment of children and youth in public schools within the formal education system. In 2019, the Counseling Department implemented psychological support at the Ministry of Education and several lectures and interactive programmes for displaced families in several displacement centres and shelters in the Western Region, including Tajoura, Souk Al-Jumah, Abu Salim, Ain Zara, Tripoli and Andalus District. The lectures dealt with several topics, the most important of which were support, psychological awareness and education assistance on how to deal with children during crises, armed conflicts and disasters. By the end of 2017, 1,393 children (including 726 girls and 667 young men) had benefited from individual career counselling and family support in Tripoli, Benghazi, Zintan, Sabha and Sabratha, which contributed to enhancing their mental health and recovery. In Tripoli, Ubari, Sabha and Zintan, 30,394 children (16,607 girls and 13,787 children) benefited from school psychosocial support services.
Other groups at risk of exclusion
Article 50 of the 2017 draft constitution stipulates that the state must provide education and care for children of ‘unknown parents’ to ensure their integration into society. In 2017, the Ministry of Education issued a decision to exempt the children of martyrs, missing persons and people with disabilities from paying tuition fees.
The EIDG at the Ministry of Education aims to integrate disabled and special groups into the education system. The administration includes three different departments: the Education and Integration Department, the Studies and Research Department and the Teachers Affairs Department. These departments are in charge of evaluating the current support for people with special needs in the national education system and developing new mechanisms and methods of work to help these groups to integrate.
The Ministry of Education’s 2019 annual work plan indicates the importance of the learning environment and the necessity of adhering to some conditions for the success of the education process. Objective 8 of the plan focuses on the importance of establishing and providing the necessary maintenance for schools, taking into account the requirements and means of facilitation for students with special needs and gender differences. Likewise, objective 7 of the plan binds the competent authority responsible for building and maintaining education institutions to create a safe space in schools that is suitable for groups with disabilities. A public awareness campaign was launched under the slogan ‘It is my right to take the tests in a safe environment’. The plan also focuses, in its objective 7, on promoting activities that stimulate the provision of a sense of safety, security and psychological well-being for students through the support of qualified school personnel.
In previous years, school infrastructure was damaged due to the crises in several parts of the country, such as the cities of Tripoli, Benghazi, Sirte and Sabha, which have destroyed a large number of education buildings and facilities. The Ministry of Education reported having carried out comprehensive and light maintenance of many schools. In 2017, nearly 1,700 schools and education facilities were repaired, while about 116 schools were maintained in 2018 and 20 in 2019. The ministry also equipped about 400 mobile classrooms between 2010 and 2020 to fill a deficit in many areas, especially remote regions. All these efforts are within the framework of preparing these schools to provide inclusive education for all segments of society, taking into account the differences and needs of different groups of students.
Curriculum, learning materials and ICT
Goal 3 of the ministry’s 2019 plan stipulates the necessity of reviewing and improving the curricula for all levels of basic and secondary education in order to help with its development and inclusiveness. The ministry, through the Center for Educational Curricula and Research, is involved in preparing curricula for the general education stage and producing all necessary textbooks and education materials, including preparing and approving textbooks used in religious schools, according to Decision 1901 of 2017 regarding the formation of specialized committees to review and amend curricula for basic education. Curricula for blind students have also been developed, and special books were produced for basic and secondary education during the 2018/19 and 2019/20 academic years. Work is under way to develop curricula and books for students with intellectual disabilities, such as autism, Down syndrome and learning difficulties.
During a previous phase, the ministry developed several policies to ensure the continuation of the teaching and learning process for all segments of society during crises, disasters and epidemics. In light of the aggression on Tripoli and the global spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of Education adopted several practices and applications of information technology in education during the 2019/20 academic year, including:
- Recording education lessons through four television channels for all years of schooling at the general education stage.
- The launch in May 2020 of ‘Let’s Learn’, a distance-learning platform that provides an easy-to-access, interactive digital learning environment. The platform was designed by Libyan specialized programmers to raise the quality of the education process.
- The launch of an interactive application for the education platform on smartphones (Let’s Learn mobile application) to achieve a more dynamic interaction with students.
- The launch of a visual educational channel that broadcasts educational programmes around the clock, allowing students to follow lessons in areas that do not have Internet access.
- Issuing a new regulation regulating the pattern of e-learning in the higher education stage, according to the minister of education’s Decision No. 354 of 2020. Work is under way on a project to issue a similar bylaw to regulate the pattern of e-learning for the general education stage.
- Approval by the ministry of phone codes for all high school students to facilitate the mechanisms of communication with them and to obtain free internet access packages to be used in following up on methodological lessons and lessons for solving indicative questions.
The ministry has also established the Support and Assistance Center to help students, parents and teachers regarding the education platform and lessons.
Article 27 of Presidential Council Decree No. 933 of 2017 defines the specific role of teachers in the education of students with disabilities. It highlights the required support in helping to integrate students and stresses the need to assess the levels of student integration within the classroom. This assessment is to be done through evaluation of the target students by the Higher Evaluation Committee in the EIDG. The committee was established by the minister of education through Decision No. 1498 of 2017. Article 23 of the decree highlights the role that psychological counsellors in schools must play in providing support to all students, including those with disabilities. In addition, the Ministry of Education’s 2019 action plan emphasizes empowering women to play a more active role in all education and executive levels of the education sector.
Libya has no national education monitoring report. However, in the 2018/19 academic year, the Ministry of Education published its Annual Report of National Education Statistics and Indicators in order to monitor the education process as well as to monitor progress towards SDG 4.
The Ministry of Education also aspires to build an integrated educational management information system (EMIS). Currently, it is working with the participation and support of UNICEF to build an EMIS for the basic and intermediate stages of education.