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Open Access Peer-reviewed

National Libyan Public Education Reform: Entire Transformative Strategies, 2020-2026

Dr. Ageila Ali Elabbar
American Journal of Educational Research. 2017, 5(10), 1044-1057. DOI: 10.12691/education-5-10-6
Published online: November 09, 2017

Abstract

Teachers and students are at the heart of education structure, interaction, and even innovation. Teachers are the conveyors of ideas and practices and the source of knowledge of their learners. Libyan teachers are fulfilling this role in a challenging context, because they are teaching students whose education process has been unstable for a long time. At the same time, teachers and students are in a difficult administrative situation. They are constrained, that is, the extent to which they can decide what they are going to do is limited because of the way things are decided in Libya. These constraints may come from several difficulties, such as current economical influences, discouraged forms of education, changeable curriculum, bureaucratic schools and university systems, conservative community, two generations of university teachers (old-generation teachers and new-generation teachers), and uncertain education policy. Other factors are the way learners used to learn (learning styles), and current political upheavals (civil war) that influenced the entire stability of the education in Libya and led to two ministries of education (east and west Libya). In other words, the entire Libyan education is affected by politics, culture, and administration factors for over 46 years. These issues have led to such complicated situations in all education sectors. Therefore, if the education status should be changed, six years of gradual reform phases may be required so that a new generation of students will start with the pre-kindergarten stage starting 2026. This idea is a result of several studies, including my PhD on the Libyan education context, which led to an insight on implementing complete reform approaches for the entire Libyan education. This ground-up process is called the National Libyan Public Education Reform. This paper will propose a framework of reforming Libyan education that considers the current situation, educators, and learners and is divided into three stages: to evaluate, prepare, modify, and introduce the new Libyan education in six years’ time.

1. Theoretical View

1.1. Libya

Elabbar 1 summarized several papers that addressed the state of Libya. He showed that Libya is an Arabic country located in North Africa between four Arabic countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Sudan (p. 11). Vandewall 2 reported that the population of Libya is approximately 6.5 million, the majority of whom live mainly in the north of the country. It is the fourth largest country on the African continent. It has a Mediterranean Sea coast line of approximately 1,900 kilometers. Libya is a large country with an area of approximately 1.8 million square kilometers, which is seven times the size of the United Kingdom (pp. 5-7). Agnaia 3 pointed out that Libya is a bilingual country, with the languages spoken being Arabic and Berber. People who speak Berber are a minority, living in the cities of Zuwara and Yefren (western mountains of Libya), who speak their language among themselves and pass it on to their children. Arabic, however, is the only official language in Libya, and it is also the language used in the educational system, which is not the same as the various dialects spoken in different parts of Libya. Thus, when students enter schools, Arabic-speaking children are exposed to a language that is different from their everyday dialect (pp. 8-10).

1.2. Brief History of Libyan Education

According to Yousif et al. 4, in 1951, a UNESCO commission came to Libya to report and to make suggestions about education. They detailed that there were “only 29 primary schools in the capital city of Tripoli, and only one in the other city called (Zawiya). There was one teacher training centre for women in Tripoli” 5. The primary school system in Tripoli was based on the Egyptian syllabus, and the upper primary school system followed the Italian school curriculum.” Education was given no priority at all under these periods of occupation. During the period of Kingdom, all Libyans were guaranteed the right to education at school at all levels, but education was not compulsory. In September 1969, a military coup led by the former leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi (defeated in 2011) occurred, which “altered things quite dramatically.” This “revolution” (as Gaddafi kept naming it) led to many positive changes in Libya, and education started to develop at an enormous rate (presented in Table 1), alongside huge economic, political, and social changes in the country” (pp. 77-79). Khalifa 6 explained that since the Constitution of 1969 (which was changed in March 2, 1977), “Libyans are guaranteed the right to education. Primary and high schools were established all over the country, and old Quranic schools that had been closed during the struggle of independence were reactivated and new ones established, lending a heavy religious perspective to Libyan education.” The educational program was influenced by a limited curriculum, a lack of qualified teachers, and a marked tendency to learn by rote rather than by reasoning. Libya’s population of approximately 6.5 million now includes 1.7 million students (p. 79).

Yousif et al. 7 also pointed out that just during the period 1973 to 1985, “the size of the school and universities population doubled, females in the student population increasing by 130 percent, compared with 80 percent for males” (p. 82). Furthermore, Chapin 8 showed that the first Libyan university was established in Benghazi (east Libya) in 1955, and there are “presently nine universities” and seven higher learning institutes, including training and vocational schools (p. 19). Teferra 9 explained that in 2003, over 140,000 students were enrolled in Libyan universities (p. 25). El-Hawat 10 pointed out that in 2002, nearly 5,000 students were enrolled at the master’s level, 49 at the doctoral level, and 580 in medical schools (p. 213).

1.3. Structure of the Current Libyan Education

The structure of Libyan education is divided into two: the school system and the university system. El-Hawat 10 reported that elementary school in Libya consists of six years, followed by three years of junior high and three years of high school. The secondary school system is divided into two specialties, arts and sciences, comprising six areas of specialization. Libyan school officials view education as “the path to human and technological development and progress” and they are implementing changes to the system to keep pace with globalization that is part of the modern Libyan society. The creation of two types of secondary school is one example of these changes, as this new system was started in 2004, and another is the creation of universities based on students’ specializations (pp. 207-208). The following table displays the current state of education in Libya by stage, years, ages, and period.

1.4. University System in Libya

Elabbar ( 12, p. 31) mentioned that El-Hawat 13 reported that according to the Committee of Higher Education (Ministry of Education now) instructions, since 1990 all the universities in Libya have required a score of 65% or higher in the national schools’ examination. Some faculties, such as medicine and engineering, require scores exceeding 75% for admission. Students who have an average below 65% are admitted to higher training and vocational institutes. Students from specialized high schools are encouraged to continue their field of specialization (such as medicine, engineering, and economics) at the tertiary level. “Consistent with other countries, degrees are awarded at bachelors, masters and doctorate levels. Libyan universities contain three major disciplines.” These disciplines are arts, science, technology, and medicine. Graduation from a faculty of arts takes four years, science takes five years, and medicine takes between five and seven years ( 13, pp. 395-397).

However, Gadour 14 argued that Libyan students moving from school to university face several learning and educational struggles and changes; for example, teaching and learning management at university is completely different from the school system, which can be observed in the large number of students, learning systems, and teaching methodologies (p. 170).

1.5. Difference between School and University Systems

Gadour ( 14, pp. 173-175) demonstrated that differences between school and university systems can be clearly observed in the following points:

A. Curriculum management and design: Curricula for all schools are arranged by the Ministry of Education, whereas at universities, the syllabus for each course is arranged by individual teachers on each university class based on departmental issues.

B. Teacher training programs: To some extent, school teachers are provided with a training policy that is usually arranged in the summertime. However, university teachers are left without a training policy or arrangements. This may be a result of cultural and political factors.

C. Student numbers: Students moving from schools to universities spend a long time learning to cope with the large classes (90 to 130 students in each university class) instead of the smaller number of students at schools (35 to 45 in each school class).

D. Teaching methods: School teachers are restricted to using teachers’ books that show all the steps and methodologies of teaching, and there are inspectors who observe the teachers’ activities, but university teachers are left to their own understanding and make their OWN decisions regarding teaching.

1.6. Education Policy: Schools and Universities

The Libyan Education Authorities (1995, p. 109) showed that the Libyan government provides policy statements detailing the aims of the school. For instance, the “curriculum must cover all the activities in a school designed to promote the moral, cultural, intellectual and physical development of students, and must prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life and society.” However, El-Hawat ( 10, p. 215) indicated that in the university education system, the education authority simply authorizes their national university managers to apply whatever policy they personally feel is most suitable; this point has caused differences between universities and even faculties. Additionally, Elabbar 1 demonstrated that the complications faced by Libyan university teachers are influenced by the current civil war, beliefs/culture, and concepts of learning, which exposed several important responses and points to discuss and ponder deeply.

1.7. Current Upheavals in Libya (Summary from 2011 to 2017)

Elabbar 1 explained that along with the (2011) youth movements in the Middle East, known as “the Arab Spring,” and after the “deposition” of the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents, a frustration that had been building in Libya started to emerge (p. 23). Wilson ( 15, pp. 2-5) clarified that Libya has a huge youth population and few economic opportunities. “Coupled with Gaddafi’s government nepotism and oppression.” Few protests occurred in the city of Benghazi, the second biggest city in the east of Libya, after a human rights activist was detained. When police tried to restrain these demonstrations, they only grew larger, attracting more people on to the streets. Elabbar 16 also showed that the situation transformed enormously when the protests were put down violently by the police between February 16 and 18, 2011. A battle “erupted” in Benghazi in which the primary Libyan Army base was overtaken.

Wilson ( 15, pp. 48-51) stressed that the most important event after this was the defection of Libyan Army units to the protestors, after being ordered to fire on the protestors. From this early success, the protests grew in intensity and in violence. As Gaddafi was unable to trust his military, he hired a “brigade’s worth (6000 men) of sub-Saharan African mercenaries.” On top of that, he ordered ground attack jet fighters and helicopter gunships to massacre the protestors in Benghazi. Though many were killed, the city was overtaken on February 20, and the pro-Gaddafi loyalists were driven out. Elabbar 16 also showed that the UN began negotiations to implement sanctions (p. 26). The Arab League suspended Libya and began talks with the African Union about imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. By August 20, 2011, a dramatic development started to happen in Libya, as the revolutionaries (represented by the National Transitional Council) from many Libyan cities such as Benghazi, Musrata, and the Western Mountain, as well as revolutionaries from Tripoli itself, marched to the Gaddafi main compound (presidential palace) in Tripoli. This marching toppled the Libyan dictatorship period that continued for 42 years. Finally, it is important to point out that the battles between the Libyan revolutionaries, NATO, and Gaddafi’s remaining forces continued (after August 2011) in some cities loyal to him until approximately end of 2011.

Furthermore, from 2012 to 2017, Libya has experienced different complications. Political and security circumstances led the country to a real civil war between different powers and even some Trible wars (in the western part of Libya in particular). These conditions resulted in a massive rise of civil crimes, kidnappings, as well as distorting and looting of many schools’ equipment in the war zones. Moreover, this war against ISSES in Benghazi, Sirt, and several other cities caused an actual education complication that drove huge populations to leave their cities and move to the neighboring cities, and some of them even went to neighboring countries.

In other words, Libyan education has faced frequent complications for the past 47 years. These complications occurred because of political interference in education, unstable policy, and after Gaddafi’s periods (conflicts). These years of difficulties have created complete generations of students, teachers, learning styles, and if such situation would be reformed, a gradual six-year step should be adopted as part of National Professional Development actions. The following proposal is an outcome of my several research findings, including my PhD, personal experience as a university teacher, and readings about the situation of Libyan education. It attempts to overcome the expected “change constraints” that could be faced during this suggested reform process, as it considers the Libyan culture of education, perspectives of administrating, and the existing top-down system.

2. Methodological Phases and Framework 2020-2026

2.1. Goals and Agendas

•  To prepare the current public education system and higher education system to enable educators to accept these reform strategies, as these preparations aim to develop a new generation of students who will start with the prekindergarten stage (separately) on the school year 2026-2027.

•  To develop the current education administrators, policy makers, and inspectors and prepare them to the gradual reform practices (2020-2026).

•  To expose Libyan educators to a culture of innovations, leadership, and creativity and encourage them to think in depth about learning and teaching processes.

•  To join the public-school education with higher education management, gradual innovation strategy, policy, training, and continuing professional development (CPD) organizations.

•  To reflect modern strategies of public education around the globe to come up with a developed education policy based on the Libyan community, measured curricula, interactive teaching paradigms, and modern teaching aids, along with an ongoing CPD for administrators.

•  To bridge the current education system that will be under reform preparations from 2020 to 2022 for the key education figures, and the 2023-2025 transformation strategy for the rest of educators.

•  To engage motivated teachers and educators who showed interest in participating in the entire reform process.

•  To build up a strong base for creative students, teachers, and HQs to play a huge role in the ongoing development procedures.

•  To motivate Libyan education researchers, academics, master’s students, and PhD students to participate in the reform process and to shift from theory to practice.

•  To build up an interactive county IT system that unifies the transformed education policy to overcome the bureaucratic structure.

•  To decentralize basic schools’ curriculum activities (ground design) with maintaining national core curriculum aims, as this decentralization will help many Libyan counties to add or reduce curriculum activities, national languages, ideologies, and even regional culture to the basic school education.

•  To decentralize the scholarship departments from the ministry or government control to the public universities’ and counties’ control; to equalize opportunities of human development through quality and assurance standards.

•  To decentralize university and faculty deans’ positioning from the ministry or government control to the university control through elected criteria of such positions.

• To decentralize the expenditure budget for human resources, teacher training, CPD, conferences, visiting scholars, and partnerships from the government administration to the public university and county administration.

•  To apply ongoing quality and assurance standards, inspections, and testing as graduate transformation procedures for the 2020-2026 reform.

•  To unite teachers, parents, community, policy makers, and government officials to enable a smooth transformation process.

•  To prepare faculties of education and teachers’ college graduates of the academic year 2024-2025 in taking over the new reformed education system. These preparations would go through a complete reformed curriculum (ground-up curriculum) with consideration of the national core syllabuses, modern teaching methods based on pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), and use of modern technology, to enable such faculties to produce skilled teachers for the new generation of students in the school year 2026-2027, and the rest of the schooling system.

2.2. The Strategy

As mentioned in the introduction, the reform process will go through several gradual phases in preparation for the national action within the complicated Libyan context. The following phases explain the practical actions as a bottom-up (ground-up) preparation strategy toward revolutionizing the entire Libyan public school, vocational, and higher education system in six years’ time.

2.3. Phase 1: 2020–2022—Gradual Reform Preparations for Key Education Figures and Policy Makers ONLY

This phase aims to build a strong base for the reform procedures and seeks to involve the key Libyan education figures to contribute in two-year professional development and reform practices. This two-year intensive ground-up reform preparation proposal requires developing such educators’ knowledge of schooling and perspectives to the change. These practices could be through managed national training, CPD models, teachers’ education and reform training, quality and assurance workshops, short-term scholarships (in and outside Libya), use of technology, and studies on the Libyan education circumstances. These preparations will guide them to put into practice the main aims of the national education reform project.


2.3.1. Targeted Officials

Government policy makers, ministry and county administrators, education planners, curriculum creators, teachers’ trainers, ministry research and training center directors, deans of universities and faculties of educations, etc.


2.3.2. Suggested Professional Development Activities

•  Planned workshops of transformative learning and action research models as CPD strategies.

•  Intensive activities and workshops to highlight the main aims and procedures of the reform.

•  Ongoing quality and assurance workshops and training to emphasize its importance for reform management.

•  An intensive ongoing debate cascading the latest studies and national and international conference outcomes about the main constraints facing the Libyan education system, to reflect the suggested results on the reformed policy plan.

•  Intensive focus groups, monitoring, and service about the role of policy makers and key education figures in transforming the Libyan education system.

•  Intensive ongoing evaluations, sessions, and workshops on materials development policy for school education.

•  Ongoing sessions on the role of implementing CPD in the developed education policy.

•  Ongoing sessions on applying technology, interactive learning, and international languages on the education policy.

•  Intensive sessions about the role of teacher, inspector, and social workers’ education within the education policy.

•  Ongoing workshops about the significance of including teachers’ TV and kids’ education channels in the education policy regulations.

•  Ongoing workshops on the role of administration on the education policy regulations.

•  Intensive workshops on the importance of making clear policies for selecting new teachers, assessing in-service teachers and inspectors, and suggesting ongoing professional development support.

•  Focused workshops on how to connect school education policy with higher education policy and regulations to ensure a smooth transformational organization.

•  Workshops on the current reform plan and how to proceed (through 2020–2022 development activities) to the entire reform starting in 2023.

•  Shared action research activities on the difficulties facing Libyan education, in terms of graduate outcomes and needs of future work markets.


2.3.3. Anticipated Outcomes of Phase 1

The expected outcomes of these two-year guided reform practices are as follows:

•  Motivate policy makers to transform this existing policy to overcome the education difficulties facing the entire Libyan education system.

•  Generate ideas to contextualize appropriate procedures and time cheats for the reform process.

•  Prepare officials to apply CPD and quality and assurance, and reform the entire education policy in Libya.

•  Develop capable teacher-trainers, education researchers, materials developers, and policy reformers to participate strongly in Phase 2.

•  Develop new IT and database designs for the entire Libyan education system to facilitate the implementation of the reform aims.

•  Establish strong connections with international research centers, councils, counties, and universities, and gain understanding about latest reform studies.

•  Develop educators’ perspectives toward the importance of classroom interaction, motivation, students’ innovation, creation, decentralization of education, teamwork, communicative learning, and incorporating PCK.


2.3.4. Suggested Procedures before the Start of Phase 2

This stage aims to evaluate and pilot all the Phase 1 outcomes and ensure the following areas are grasped:

•  Clear work map for the coming phase (Phase 2 starts 2023–2026), in terms of managing counties, universities, and contributors.

•  Written guidelines or regulations to the reform administrators all over the country.

•  Written regulations and time cheats for all developmental activities that will be suggested to the Phase 2 participants.

•  Complete reformed IT system and database that reflect the project’s main aims as well as the Phase 1 outcomes.

2.4. Phase 2: 2023-2026—Wide Contributors, Start of Policy Transformation, and Implementation of the Project Purposes

The four years of transformational actions and gradual change of policy aims to put into practice the project’s main goals in addition to the Phase 1 anticipated results. It also aims to include wide contributors from schools, vocational sector, and higher education to unify clear attitude to the change. The following themes summarize the required actions, participants, and institutes who are recommended to participate in this stage.

All members of Phase 1 should also participate in this phase.

•  Teachers’ Colleges (TCs): It is significant to include all the reform’s main aims into how our future teachers gain and develop their PCK. TCs will also require to have well classroom equipment, teaching aids, IT system, modern laps, online library access, and well-trained educators who have the ability to apply the reform’s main aims, as well as participate in the Phase 1 (2020–2022) arrangements.

•  Ministry Training Centers (MTCs): MTCs must play an important role in applying CPD models such as national teacher training program, action research, coaching, cascading, and transformative training. MTCs should also cooperate with national and international universities and counties’ research centers that went through a complete reform. Similarly, MTCs should bottom up the development process toward the involvement of the in-service teachers, inspectors, school headquarters, education administrators, and social workers to participate in framing and contextualizing the change.

•  Teachers’ TV (TTV): This managed channel (both TV and internet) aims to help pre- and in-service teachers to keep up with the fundamental development process and CPD activities and track all preparation stages on TTV. Those teachers will then have an excellent opportunity to watch all training sessions, recorded reform lectures, lesson plan activities, communicative learning manners, teacher education, importance of materials design, action research, and transformative learning. A prepared app should also be offered to the educators so they would continue to be on track on the reform.

•  Government Officials: These officials are parliament representatives, human resource educators, quality and assurance administrators, and retired educators (who are interested in participating). These also include old-generation teachers, new-generation teachers, social workers, and school HQs, as well as university educators, TAs, university deans, heads of departments, and university administrators. All mentioned educators will require ongoing shared workshops, coaching, focus groups, and shared studies to link the main goals of the reform with practice. These connectional activities motivate reformers to contextualize the process within such a traditional Libyan community.

•  Curriculum Designers: Those designers require an intensive professional development on materials development and materials adaptation to be able to achieve the following goals:

a.  Making a core curriculum for the new generation of pupils who will start in 2026/2027. This core curriculum would include reading, writing, math, science, technology, Islamic studies, English language, and citizenship.

b.  Making a peripheral curriculum: history, music, arts, social studies, and physical education.

c.  Making gradual modifications for the current students to enable classroom interaction, shared work, and adoption of technology.

d.  Giving spaces in the teachers’ books to enable teachers to develop activities, and use ground-up activities.

e.  Requiring the university syllabus to meet the reform preparations, in terms of content knowledge, use of technology, and forging languages.

2.5. Debates

Round tables; start of changing the curricula; plan after 2026 in terms of structure, regulations, badges, selecting teachers, reducing teachers, salaries, etc.

2.6. Role of Social Workers in the Change

Social workers are important in the gradual change, so they should be involved in these activities. They will be required to further connect to the traditional Libyan teachers and students. They would be trained on preparing the families and students to accept the gradual change.

3. Current Budget, Numbers, and Expectations

According to the ministry’s unpublished report (2015), over the past 17 years Libya has spent an annual budget of approximately 1.3 billion Libyan dinars (approximately 1 billion US dollars) for the Ministry of Education ONLY without a clear developmental policy. This unplanned budget has led to a certain extent to corruption because it was not used to build a strong base for approximately 1.4 million school learners (201000) in the vocational sector and approximately 435,000 university students.

Nevertheless, Elabbar 1 explained that with a huge budget and a small population, most of the current classrooms consist of 45 to 50 students each. This number does not agree with the large number of assigned teachers (on papers only), approximately 745,000, which should mean approximately one teacher for four students. Thus, part of this project’s main aims is to use such budget in the six-year reform plan.

For example, Maghaib’s 17 statistical report based on the national ID system showed that by 2021, the entire Libyan population is expected to reach 6785.839 million, with an annual growth of 1.3 and fertility rate of 2.315. Thus, Libya will have approximately 581.458 thousand new children aged between 0 and 4 years (p. 68).

4. Phase 3:

4.1. Predicted Structure, Budget, and Policy

This phase would come as a result of the two prior phases (Phases 1 and 2). It aims to prepare new-generation students who are suggested to start the academic year 2026/2027 (pre-k). Those learners are anticipated to be approximately 504,000 pre-k students. This phase also aims to implement the goals of this project, which are creating a modern learning environment and having well-equipped classrooms (no more than 20 students per class), well-trained teachers, and HQs; these goals can be achieved through a well-organized county system that applies the aims of this project as framework procedures.

Therefore, the expected required new classrooms will be approximately 29,073. Maghaib 17 anticipated the cost of a well-equipped classroom (according to the US standards) to be approximately 80,000 Libyan dinars (60,000 dollars per class), which means approximately 2,325,832,000 Libyan dinars (approximately 2.1 billion dollars).

This study also anticipated that the annual cost of each student, including administration, teachers, training, transportation, equipment, carting, and school supplies, is approximately 20,000 Libyan dinars (17,500 US dollars). Thus, the total anticipated or required annual budget for the new reformed education with teaching and administration will be approximately 104,6624,4000 US dollars, which is approximately 1.6 billion Libyan dinars every year, plus the cost of adding the required classrooms.

4.2. Conclusion

This framework proposal aimed to open doors for the key Libyan education figures to analyze ideas of reforming a complicated learning context. It considered the current position of Libyan educators, policy makers, and the difficulties they are facing based on using an unstable system for over 47 years. This proposal also considered different models of CPD, cultural reflection, current students, and economical thought based on the current addressed budget in the state of Libya. Most of the suggested aims are designed to be linked or modified to wider ideas to reform the complex situation in Libya.

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Dr. Ageila Ali Elabbar. National Libyan Public Education Reform: Entire Transformative Strategies, 2020-2026. American Journal of Educational Research. Vol. 5, No. 10, 2017, pp 1044-1057. http://pubs.sciepub.com/education/5/10/6
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Elabbar, Dr. Ageila Ali. "National Libyan Public Education Reform: Entire Transformative Strategies, 2020-2026." American Journal of Educational Research 5.10 (2017): 1044-1057.
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Elabbar, D. A. A. (2017). National Libyan Public Education Reform: Entire Transformative Strategies, 2020-2026. American Journal of Educational Research, 5(10), 1044-1057.
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Elabbar, Dr. Ageila Ali. "National Libyan Public Education Reform: Entire Transformative Strategies, 2020-2026." American Journal of Educational Research 5, no. 10 (2017): 1044-1057.
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