Right to Education: Student rights should be at the centre of education policy

27 Nov 2022

Right to Education: Student rights should be at the centre of education policy

TRIPOLI - Students are struggling to complete their studies due to a lack of equipment, teacher strikes, outdated curricula, and electricity cuts, according to representatives from the General Union of Libyan Students who met with the human rights team of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) last week.

“In the last two years there has not been one semester in which my dental studies at the University of Misrata haven’t been stopped due to issues like strikes or electricity,” said Musab Gusaibat, the President of the General Union of Libyan Students.

The government isn’t discussing these issues and doesn’t have the will to improve the situation he explained, adding: “Student’s should be at the centre of the education system, and this is never the case in Libya.”

Mohammed Al-Mutarridi, project manager for the Union added that despite it being active for over 50 years, the international community has previously failed to engage with them directly.  “We need better coordination which focuses on the actual needs of students,” the University of Misrata IT student added, “we know the challenges and the local needs of students across Libya.”

The meeting was part of a series of inclusive dialogues by UNSMIL’s human rights team to compile challenges and recommendations provided by the people of Libya. This will then be given to the government and the international community to ensure the centrality of human rights throughout the political process.

Over the last year, the team has met with over 140 men and women from civil society, academia, experts, labourers, government, human rights defenders, and judicial actors to capture the voices of Libyans not often heard in the political dialogue.

Lack of electricity, missing books, an outdated curriculum, poorly paid teachers striking for salary increases and poorly maintained buildings are all having a daily impact on the students in Libya, the Union members said.

We need an education system that develops students to have the right skills for business, not one where the outdated curriculum means that even those who have access to education and complete their studies do not come out with the right skills, they said, calling for better coordination between ministries of education, planning, and economy.

“We are learning a curriculum from 1980 in buildings which sometimes don’t have bathrooms,” explained Musab, “we need a government committee to work with us to update the curriculum to meet market needs.”

UNSMIL will be holding a digital dialogue with people across Libya on 8 December 2022 to capture their voices on key human rights issues. If you have an opinion you would like to share with us, please monitor UNSMIL’s social media accounts to register for the digital dialogue.