Libya uses education as a tool of development. The curriculum in public schools is often set according to skills that are required in the working sector. Incentives are also created to encourage students to study in those fields. All of this is done in the hopes of replacing foreign workers with skilled Libyan workers.
Finding a school in Libya that upholds the standard of education expats expect for their children can seem like a daunting task. Choosing the appropriate school will have a significant impact on the child’s transition to expat life in Libya.
Public schools in Libya
Basic education is free and compulsory in Libya. Children attend primary school between the ages of six and 12. Typically, this phase of education will focus on classes such as Arabic, Islamic languages, Jamahiriyi society, mathematics and natural sciences. Children in Libya complete the final three years of basic education in middle school. After middle school, at the age of 15, they are awarded a basic education certificate. They then have the choice between finding work or going on to secondary school.
Classes in public schools are taught in Arabic. This language barrier often makes public schooling inaccessible to foreign children. The strong focus on religion and Islam may also lead to large degrees of culture shock for children not raised in the Islamic faith.
Private schools in Libya
There are a limited number of private schools operating in Libya. These schools charge high fees but offer a better standard of teaching with smaller classes. However, they still follow the national curriculum as determined by the Secretariat of Education and Culture. The language of instruction is usually also Arabic in these schools.
International schools in Libya
In the last decade, corporations that have cultivated the expat community in Libya have attempted to improve the transition when it comes to expat children's education. Although choices remain few and waiting lists can cause frustration, there are a handful of reputable international schools available in Libya.
Most international schools are found in Tripoli. Schools typically start from preschool and run through to the end of high school. The curricula of these schools include French, German and the esteemed International Baccalaureate. The language of instruction will follow the curriculum being followed. Classes are small, and the standards are high.
Due to the high standards and limited spots available, expats should register their children as early as possible to ensure enrolment. There is almost always a non-refundable application fee to be paid for this service. Admission procedures vary from school to school. Fees tend to be prohibitively expensive and often do not cover things such as books and uniforms. Expats relocating for work should attempt to negotiate a schooling stipend as part of their contract.
Special-needs education in Libya
Expat parents of children with disabilities can rest assured that Libya's Ministry of Education aims to provide access to education for all without discrimination. The Department of Education and Integration of Disabled Groups (EIDG) works to assist students with disabilities to complete their education within the public school system. It focuses on working to enhance the efficiency of the integrated educational process for all students, including special groups, and providing direct support to students and teachers, as well as the tools, equipment and training necessary to do so.
EIDG also works on preparing the appropriate school infrastructure and providing tools and means of facilitation, textbooks, audio-visual and touch resources, and other means of learning for each segment of people with disabilities.
Due to the significant language barrier, parents of disabled children will likely send their kids to international schools, which are generally very well equipped to integrate and teach children with special needs in an inclusive environment.
Tutors in Libya
In Libya, tutoring is becoming increasingly popular and many parents opt to employ private tutors for their children. Both expats and locals make use of tutors for a variety of reasons including subject-specific learning, language coaching and exam preparation. The right tutor can also help expat children adjust to a new curriculum and new learning environment. Parents should ask their children's school about reputable tutors in their area, or they can browse for one online.
►See Culture Shock in Libya for what to expect when moving
"I would say that, if you’re based in Misurata, Lamassat is the best school in the country. They have a waiting list but you can convince them if you bring the complete application file and the fees ready (worked for us). In Zawia, the school my boys attend is also very impressive."
Read more about French expat Jameela's experiences in Zawia, Libya.
Are you an expat living in Libya?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Libya. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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