School and Education in Libya


At Libya’s independence (1951), only 10% of the population was literate. The school system, which has since expanded considerably, is both state and private, the latter consisting of Koran schools. The school duty is 9 years, from 6 to 15 years of age. The three-year high school is voluntary, but a majority of the students continue to this level, where the girls are more than the boys. In 2009, literacy among the population over 15 years was estimated at 90% (95% among men, 82% among women). Priority is given to expanding teacher education and vocational schools.

Libya has 13 state universities, of which a technical and a medical college. The 1969 coup d’├ętat and the new constitutions that followed it had a major impact on the content of the educational courses, which were given greater Islamic and socialist orientation. At all stages, Islam and Arabic are studied, and up to al-Khadaffi’s case, his “Green Book” played an important role in teaching. Military education for both men and women is compulsory in high school and university.

On March 17, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1973, paving the way for Western war against Libya to save the insurgency. The Security Council thus completed its metamorphosis from peacemaker to war-creating institution. The colonial powers never succeeded in getting the Security Council’s blue stamp of the war against Serbia in 1999 or against Iraq in 2003. The reason was allegedly to save the civilian population of Libya, but the African states opposed to the resolution subsequently asked why the Security Council never intervened in the Darfour conflict where 1 million were killed, in the Congo where the civil war had also cost 1 million civilian lives, in the Ivory Coast where the civil war was fleeing in the same days, or in Lebanon or Gaza where Israel in 2006 and 2009 killed over 1-2000 civilians. The simple explanation was that Libya had oil.

Libya Country Flag

Libya flag source:

The Security Council Resolution established a “no-fly zone” to “protect the civilian population”, but at the same time rejected an actual foreign occupation of the country. That the agenda was another showed France, the first country to send its planes to war against Libya, where they bombed Gadaffi’s tanks. It had nothing to do with the “no-fly zone”, but the purpose was to ensure the rebels military progress.

Over the course of a few days, Gadaffi’s Air Force was put out of play, and the United States, which had otherwise played the lead in the war, now announced that the superpower would no longer take a leading role in the war. The United States was generally hated in the Arab world for its occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, support for the region’s dictators, and securing Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine. The War of the Colonial Powers therefore, after just a week, ran into organizational problems, because the United States wanted to stay within the Security Council mandate for “no-fly zone,” while the rest of the Colonial powers wanted to overthrow Gadaffi – which was outside the resolution. China and Russia that had otherwise failed to veto the resolution now criticized the colonial powers for the ongoing war and demanded immediate ceasefire. So did India, Brazil, the Arab League and the African Union. The AU had already asked the colonial powers the day after the Security Council resolution to fly to Libya to try to negotiate a peaceful solution to the conflict, but it was flatly rejected by the colonial powers. In early April, the AU was finally allowed to send a peace delegation to Libya, but while Gadaffi agreed to enter into negotiations, negotiations continued to be rejected by colonial powers and rebels demanding Gadaffi’s unconditional departure.

The colonial powers, with Britain and France at the forefront, wanted to use NATO as an organizational framework for the war against Libya when the US withdrew, but Turkey and Germany initially opposed it. However, they succeeded in thrusting Turkey, so that on March 24, NATO took over the leadership of the naval blockade and from the 25th air strikes on Libya. However, the process revealed new contradictions between the colonial powers. Barack Obama publicly warned the other colonial powers against continuing the war, and NATO Secretary-General strained plans to deliver weapons to the rebels by declaring it was in violation of the Security Council resolution on arms embargo on the country. However, that embargo was already broken at that time by Qatar supplying weapons to CIA controlled militias in eastern Libya.

While the air strikes in the days after March 17 paved the way for the rebels’ military progress, at the end of the month the rebels were again escaped by Gadaffi’s forces. At that time, about 1 million civilians were driven to flight. The humanitarian disaster was a reality. In turn, the rebels opened for the shipping of oil from Ras Lanuf.

In light of the military decline of the rebels, at the beginning of April they began to criticize NATO for lack of support in the war. NATO responded by stepping up its attacks on Gadaffi’s forces, with the result that the military alliance bombed a rebel captured by the rebels two days later, killing 17 of them. The rebels demanded an apology for the attack. An apology NATO refused to grant.

The Civil War had sent 1 million civilians to flee. On April 6, a boat with 300 Libyan refugees was on its way to Italy. At least 250 drowned.