Although a definition of inclusive education was not found in the laws and policies reviewed, the vision of the Department of Education and Integration of Special Groups is to “access to education for all without distinction”. The mission of the Department is to “work to raise the efficiency of the integrated educational process for all students, including special groups”.
Special Education Needs
The gifted and talented people and people with disabilities constitute this group.
The Disabilities Office in the Ministry of Education “works to assist students with disabilities to complete their education within the public school system through provision of direct support to students and teachers and by supplying the necessary tools, equipment, and training required to do so’” (p. 14) . However, there is little information on the organization of the education of children with disabilities. Some evidence suggests that those with autism or mental impairment cannot access mainstream education. Some schools provide education to gifted students. This is the case for Libya Al-Fateh Center for Gifted Students is a public school located in Benghazi serving students from 8th grade through 12th grade who are identified as academically gifted.
Efforts are underway to identify the needs of children and respond to those. For instance, in October 2018, The Technical Education Authority (TEA) launched The Gift of Sight campaign, which targets a number of schools to conduct eyesight checkups to around 6,000 students. The aim is to provide 500 glasses free of charge to low-income families of students, to be selected by social workers in schools.
In 2008, Libya signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and ratified it in February 2018. In general, there are no clear policies on inclusive education and integration. However, Libya ratified the Convention against Discrimination in Education in 1973, the CEDAW in 1989 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993. Article 8 of the Constitutional declaration states that “the state shall ensure equal opportunity and strive to guarantee education to every citizen”. According the to the statement in front of the CRPD, The right to education (draft Constitution) has added the State's obligation to provide education in accordance with individual abilities without discrimination. Art. 60 of the 2017 Draft Declaration highlights that “The State shall be committed to guaranteeing the (..) educational (…) rights for persons with disabilities on an equal footing with others”.
Article 18 of the Education Law 134 (1970) states that the Ministry of Education and National Guidance will ensure the establishment of the necessary classrooms and schools for the education of students with disabilities, where they would be receiving the appropriate instruction and curriculum. In parallel, the Law on Disabled People states that every person with disabilities, of all categories, shall be entitled to education, in conformity with his condition and degree of impairment. Article 14 states that minors with disabilities “are subject to compulsory education, shall have the right – and duty – to obtain such education throughout”. Similarly, illiterate adults with disabilities “shall be entitled to literacy courses”. Attendance with their peers without disabilities is highlighted “provided that disabling circumstances in both cases above are taken into due consideration in the determination of the syllabus and teaching matters”. Finally, Article 16 states that a disabled person, who successfully passes the compulsory phase of education and expresses his desire to pursue his studies, “shall be permitted to do so up to the end of his attitude and ability”. In 1981, the Decree of the Law on Disabled People (People’s General Congress 1981) outlined “a medicalized approach to disability” because a diagnosis and clear deficits in body structure or function were needed to receive services, including education (p. 188).
Libya acceded the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1989. In parallel, Article 1 of the Compulsory Education Law 95 (1975) states that primary and preparatory education is compulsory for all children, both males and females. The Ministry of Education has created the Office of Support and Empowerment of Women to increase the representation of women to assume leadership positions, support women working in the Ministry, monitor violations, study the status of women in the education sector and empower women with capacities and competencies, follow them and support them. It aims to achieve a qualitative and effective participation of the Libyan woman in the education sector. Gender mainstreaming in education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and child protection programs is also one core objective of UNICEF Libya.
Ethnic and linguistic minorities
Arabic is the language of instruction. English and French are taught as second or foreign languages. Article 2 of Law 18 (2013) dedicated to the rights of cultural and linguistic groups in Libya states that the cultural and linguistic minorities of the Amazigh, the Tabous, the Touareg have the right to teach and learn their languages as an option part of the curriculum. Article 2 also stipulates that it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to avail teachers, textbooks, and other needed resources to put that into effect.
Libya adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In 2017 the Libyan Amazigh High Council (LAHC) has declared the Amazigh (Berber or Tamazight) language as an official language in the cities and districts inhabited by the Amazigh in Libya. The Amazigh language “will be studied in public schools, featured in state paperwork and documents as well as correspondences and signboards”. In 2018 and 2019, measures have also been taken to foster the use of French and English in lower secondary education to step up language education in the middle school stage.
Displaced and migrant persons
In 2017, UNICEF established referral mechanisms to facilitate the enrolment of these children into the formal education system in Libyan public schools. UNICEF Libya has continued to provide access to basic literacy and recreational activities in the migrant detention centers with a focus on psychosocial support. In 2019, the Department of Psychological Counseling and Support of the Ministry of Education set up lectures and interactive programs for displaced families in shelters in Tajoura, Souq Al-Jum'aa, Abu Salim, Ain Zara, Tripoli Center, and Hay Al Andalus. The lectures included support and psychological awareness and education assistance on how to deal with their children during this crisis. By the end of 2017, 1,393 children (726 girls and 667 boys) benefited from one-to-one professional counseling and family support in Tripoli Benghazi, Zintan, Sebha, and Sebratha, contributing to their overall wellbeing, psychological health and recovery. A total of 30,394 children (16,607 girls and 13,787 boys) in Tripoli, Ubari, Sebha, and Alzintan benefited from school-based psychosocial support services.
In 2020, the Ministry of Education and UNICEF announced a new program to extend remote learning through online classes which will support e-learning platforms, provide devices pupils can use, and make sure all learners have internet access. Around 500,000 students will benefit from this program during the year 2020, with a focus on vulnerable children and those affected by the ongoing conflict.
Other groups at risk of exclusion
Article 50 of the 2017 Draft Constitution mandates the State to the provision of education and care to children of “unknown parentage” to ensure their integration in society. Moreover, in 2017 the Ministry of Education issued a decree exempting the children of martyrs, missing people and those with disabilities from paying tuition fees. In November 2019, the Ministry of Education and UNICEF launched the back to school campaign ‘Our Education, Our Future – children make the change’ which aims to reach more than 40,000 students across Libya learning materials, school in a box and recreational kits. Moreover, the work plan between the Ministry and UNICEF aims to support around 1,000 children and to provide educational support and extracurricular activities through the summer school programs.
The Libyan Ministry of Education’s Department of Education and Integration of Special Groups aims to integrate students with special needs into the country’s education system. The Department includes three different sections: The Department of Education and Integration of Special Groups, the Department of Studies and Research, and the Department of Teacher Affairs. These departments evaluate the existing support that children with special needs receive in the Libyan education system and implement new ways to help integrate these children. Article 34 of the Law on disabled persons states that the National Committee for Care to Disabled persons shall be composed of the Secretariat for Education.
As outlined in the National Education Action Plan (2019, link not available), Goal 8 focuses on establishing and offering needed maintenance to schools taking into account students with special needs and gender differences by making available all needed resources for the educational process. Similarly, Goal 7 aims to create a safe space in schools by launching a public awareness campaign under the motto “it’s my right to take my exams in a safe environment”. Under Goal 7 of the National Action Plan (2019), activities focus on providing a sense of safety, security and psychological well-being of students, by supporting qualified school staff such as counselors. This also entails a priority of including issues of psychological well-being and support as well as sustainable development within curricula.
In November 2019 (a month after the beginning of the academic year), 85% of schools were still closed or non-operational because of the teacher’s strike which was affecting an estimated 800,000 students across the country. In addition, many school infrastructures have been damaged because of the crisis. In Benghazi, this was the case for more than half of all school buildings who were damaged or destroyed because of more than two years of fighting. UNICEF has supported the rehabilitation and installation of prefabricated classrooms of 19 schools in different parts of Libya and other schools damaged during the recent crisis. With the rehabilitation of six schools in Benghazi, 2,120 girls gained access to education.
Goal 3 of the National Action Plan aims to help review and improve curricula for all basic and secondary education levels. All textbooks and pedagogical materials are currently produced by the Secretariat of Education and Culture. Books used in religious schools must also be approved by the Secretariat of Education. The Ministry of Education launched in 2019 an interactive education program to be implemented during 2020 which will target about 650 thousand students, in 30 thousand classes in the first, second, and third primary education. It will include creative methods, such as games and intellectual activities to develop literacy and numeracy skills among the target group.
Article 27 of the Presidential Council’s Decree number 933 (2017) outlines the specific role of teachers specialized to teach students with special needs and disabilities, including highlighting their needed support in helping integrate those students as well as evaluation their levels of integration within their classrooms and schools. Article 23(6) of this same Decree highlights the role that schools’ psychological counselors need to play in providing support to all students, including students with special needs and disabilities. In addition, Policy 11 of the Libyan Ministry of Education’s action plan (2019) focuses on empowering women to play a more active role throughout the whole education sector.
In partnership with UNICEF, the Ministry of Education began the implementation of a program of ‘master trainers’ in education-in-emergencies (EIE) and conflict resolution/tolerance, as part of its broader effort to strengthen teacher capacity nationwide. In coordination with the Ministry’s General Centre for Teacher Education and Development, UNICEF led training workshops for 169 teachers from across Libya, on EIE, conflict resolution and tolerance. Teachers were, for instance, trained on EiE, mine risk education and psychosocial support in Sirte. Similarly, 60 teachers and social workers were trained in Derna on psychosocial support for children. In collaboration with UNICEF, the Ministry of Education will produce video clips for model teachers who tutor basic subjects as mathematics, Arabic, and science in both the preparatory and secondary stages.