16.09.2011 - UNESCOPRESS

A new school year and building a new Libya

© UNESCO/Ania Freindorf - Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO:

On Saturday, 17 September schools in Libya will reopen their doors.

The start of this new school year is, in my view, the real starting point for the reconstruction of Libyan society.

Libya is facing immense challenges. It will only be able to meet these challenges by allowing the Libyan people to express themselves and develop all their human capacities. Today, an entire society must endeavour to mobilize itself in favour of human rights, freedom and equality. The quality of the new Libyan education system will be key to achieving this.

The conflict leaves behind a weakened education system, ruined schools and burnt-out university buildings. These immediate challenges add to the many problems that have long weakened education in Libya, notwithstanding progress that had been made.

Opening schools is essential for fuelling hopes and maintaining momentum for national reconciliation. Yet assistance and support must also be given to all those working behind school doors, teachers must be trained, programmes designed and training for all young people prepared. This historic moment must be used to support Libyan authorities in formulating a new vision for the education system at all levels and throughout the country.

UNESCO is ready to work with the authorities to address their needs and to support their efforts.

We must take action on several fronts. Immediate needs must be met in order to make schools operational. We must reinforce planning and management capacities for the education sector as a whole. A new strategy must be implemented to train teachers and professors, accompanied by new technical and vocational education and training structures – all of this so as to enhance the quality of education and its importance to the economy and to employment. In schools, a new approach to citizenship must be developed while guaranteeing access to education across the country, for both girls and boys. This strategy could be implemented in cooperation with all countries in the region which are themselves experiencing historic changes and may mutually support one another.

Education was in the front line of this conflict; it must now be at the heart of peace and the construction of a new democratic and pluralist State. UNESCO will do all in its power to accompany Libya in its determination to rebuild itself.

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