Index / Education
Following independence 1951, Libya introduced a program of free education for all. There was a great focus on Islamic subjects. Still, education was secured for a large part of the young, including girls. The revolution and end to monarchy in 1969 caused relatively few actual changes to the educational system. Education was given priority but Libya faced the obstacle of too few qualified teachers.
A great reform was introduced in 1980, when technical subjects, Koranic subjects and English were promoted in the curriculum. Attitudes in society has been a challenge, technical subjects have lower status than office jobs among many Libyans.
From 1981, military training became part of education at all levels, secondary pupils, boys and girls alike, wore military uniform as school uniform. The 1980's was a time of much tension for Libya, also affecting the educational system. In the middle of the decade, Mu'ammar Gadhafi declared that English and French was to be removed from the curricula in favour of Russian. This was never implemented, and today, Libya seems to be favouring educational programs in harmony with the Western world. In 2004, General People’s Committee for Higher Education was formed, but its actual political power is still unclear.
Expenditure on education was estimated at 2.7% of GDP in 1999, a figure that just seems to drop. In 1985, 7.5% of GDP was used on education, falling to below 6% 10 years later. Today's spending is a modest $400/capita, $200 less than neighbouring Tunisia.
In the early 1980's, about 70% of men were literate, and 35% of women. This has improved greatly since then, 2004 estimates make literacy for men above 90%, and more than 70% for women. The main reason for the improvement among women comes from good attendance of girls to basic school.
Primary education is 9 years, compulsory and free. It consists of 6 years of primary and 3 years of primary secondary.
School day is 4 hours until 3rd grade, 4.5 hours until 6th grade. Pupils receive instruction in Arabic; Islam; Jamahiriyi society; Mathematics; Sciences; History; Geography; Art; Music; and Physical education. In recent years, more intensity has been given to Mathematics and Science, and Technical education has been included.
After 9 years pupils may succeed in obtaining the Basic Education Certificate.
About 98% of all children start school. Since early 1980's, girls have attended school with the same rates as for boys.
Secondary education is by definition including the last 3 years of primary education. After the 9 years, pupils may pass 3-4 of schooling to prepare for universities and other higher institutions at Upper Secondary Schools.
Upper secondary education is offered in the fields of: general (science and arts); or specialized (economics, biology, arts and media, social sciences and engineering). General takes 3 years, technical 4 years. Pupils in the last year must take final exams, and with a score above 65% they are awarded the Secondary Education Certificate.
Vocational educational programs are offered pupils that do not complete the 9 basic years, but many begin these schools also after completing the full 9 years. Such programs are between 1 and 3 years offered at Lower Secondary Schools, aiming at training for work life. Such education is awarded the Lower Certificate.
Vocational schools offer 44 different programs in 7 major fields: Electrical; Mechanical; Carpentry; Building and architectural; Female vocations; Service industry; Agricultural; Marine fishing.
About 50-60% take programs offered at intermediate vocation training centers.
From 1955 until 1973 there was one university, the Libyan University, with in addition to its original campus in Benghazi established one in Tripoli in 1957. In 1973 it was split into what today is Alfateh University in Tripoli and University of Garyounis in Benghazi.
The 1980's and 1990's was a time of establishing several new universities, there were 13 by 1995, consisting altogether of 76 specialized faculties and more than 344 specialized scientific departments. Changing regulations reduced the number of universities to 9 in 2004, but by 2009 the number had again increased, now to 16.
In addition to the universities, Libya has higher technical and vocational institutions, which include polytechnics; higher teacher training institutes; higher institutes for trainers (training future higher technical institute instructors); higher institutes for technical, industrial and agricultural sciences. These are spread all across the country.
Higher education is free, only the Open University requires a tuition fee. Many institutions are partly or fully private, most new additions to the university list are private.
Entry to higher education requires the Secondary Education Certificate with a score of 65%. Some faculties, like Medicine and Engineering, require scores above 75%.
Students with below 65% percent are admitted to higher training and vocational institutes.
Students follow 4 or 5 year programs to obtain their Bachelor's, 2 more years to obtain a Master's. Master's are offered mainly at Alfateh and Garyounis.
Through the 1970's a large percentage of students studied abroad, this was changed in 1985 when students to Western countries were called back home. First 20 years later, from around 2005, foreign studies were again promoted.