When Libya became independent in 1951, nine
out of ten Libyans could not read or write. Today, the
case is the opposite, thanks to investments in basic
education. However, the school system has been poorly
organized and subjected to political control, which has
lowered the quality of education. Since 2011, acts of
war have made it difficult to maintain the school
The country's dictator was forced away in 2011, but
the fighting between different groups has continued, not
least near the capital. Many schools have been forced to
shut down for shorter or longer periods. In their
quarters, the children have not received any schooling
at all, and elsewhere the teaching has been partly
conducted at home or in temporary premises. In the
country's next largest city, Benghazi, the schools kept
mostly closed for a year and a half from the summer of
Country facts of Libya, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
After Gaddafi's fall, a work was started to purge the
dictator's influence from the school, at all levels.
History teaching was temporarily suspended entirely
because it was dedicated to glorifying Gaddafi's regime.
But the reform work has come off during the chaos in
which the country ended.
The Gaddafi government spent a large part of Libya's
oil revenues on developing the school system. Free and
in principle compulsory schooling existed between the
ages of 6 and 15. Thereafter, young people could either
complete a three-year high school, four-year technical
education or six-year education for primary school
teachers. The vast majority of children attended
elementary school and the majority also continued to the
upper secondary level. Unlike many other Islamic
countries, more Libyan girls studied than boys in high
In addition to the regular education system, there
were also private Qur'an schools with curricula similar
to those of the state schools. Libya also has both state
and private universities and colleges. The large
university of Benghazi, with over 80,000 students, was
occupied during the 2014 fighting by the Islamist group
Ansar al-Sharia and was largely destroyed. The teaching
has subsequently been conducted in other premises.
For a long time there has been a shortage of trained
workers with the right skills. Therefore, the country
has always been forced to recruit teachers, doctors,
technicians and scientists from abroad, especially from
Egypt and other Arab and Muslim countries, but also from
other parts of the world. Since 2011, many trained guest
workers have left Libya for security reasons.
The teaching has been kept up to date by using the
UN-backed government in Tripoli to use the country's oil
revenues to pay school staff in government-controlled
areas as well as in eastern Libya, under the control of
warlord Khalifa Haftar. In the fall of 2019, schools and
universities were closed in connection with a teacher
strike for higher salaries. The teachers also demanded
that the Minister of Education of the Tripoli Government
resign. The government had, among other things, tried to
get rid of "ghost staff", employees who remained in the
rolls despite not showing up at work. The minister made
the teachers' union go to the ceiling by claiming that
there were as many as 150,000 people.
According to the Ministry of Labor, the education
sector employs half a million people.
FACTS - EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary
98.1 percent (1983)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary
Reading and writing skills
86.1 percent (2004)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of GDP
8.1 percent (1999)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of the state budget
8.1 percent (1999)
Sharia shall be the legal basis
The National Congress votes for Sharia to form the
basis of all legislation and institutions in the
Explosion in weapons stockpile
At least 30 people die in an explosion in southern
Libya. It should have happened when a group of people
were trying to storm the facility to steal ammunition
for the purpose of accessing valuable copper.
Outbreak of violence in Tripoli
A demonstration against the Misratamilis and the
presence of other militias in the capital is
degenerating. At least 43 people are killed and over 450
injured when the militia shoots the protesters and armed
men storm the militia headquarters. The fighting is the
bloodiest since the uprising against Gaddafi.
Prosecution for connection to the Gaddafi regime
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Abdullah al-Senussi and some
20 other persons are prosecuted (see also June and
September 2012). They are held responsible for and
protesters were killed in connection with the Gaddafi
uprising. The ICC has recently ruled that Senussi can
stand trial in Libya but still demands that Saif
al-Islam be transferred to The Hague.
Al Qaeda leaders are arrested by Americans
United States commandos seize Abu Anas al-Libi
outside his home in Tripoli, where he lived completely
openly. Abu Anas al-Libi, whose real name is Nazih
Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, is being prosecuted in the
United States for the attacks on the embassies in Kenya
and Tanzania in 1998. According to the United States,
there is a stir with the good memory of the Libyan
authorities. But the Libyan leadership is protesting.
Bloody attack on soldiers
Armed men kill 15 soldiers at a military roadblock
near Bani Walid. The assault is the deadliest against
the military since the 2011 civil war.
Thousands in captivity
According to a UN report, thousands of people around
Libya are imprisoned by militia groups, more than two
years after the revolution. Many are subjected to
torture and ill-treatment. It is estimated that around
8,000 people are being held without control by the state
and the judiciary.
The oil block is becoming a bigger problem
The blockade of oil fields and ports poses an
increasing threat to the economy and stability of the
country. Oil production is down to 10 percent of the
normal level, and the state is forced to import fuel
into power plants. Zidan reiterates threats to deploy
the military against armed groups controlling the ports,
but these say it was a declaration of war.
Berber demands recognition
A group of robbers storms the parliament building in
Tripoli and causes some damage. They demand recognition
in the upcoming constitution for their language and
Oil ports are closed
Blockades of groups with varying motives cause
several ports to be closed. The effect on exports will
be immediate, only al-Sidra normally accounts for one
third of exports.
Death sentence against Gaddafimed workers
A Misrata court sentenced former Prime Minister Ahmed
Ibrahim to death for, among other things, having planned
to kill civilians during the Gaddafi uprising. The death
sentence is the first against any of Gaddafi's
The independent Nuri Abu Sahmain, is elected
President after Magarief (see May 2013). Abu Sahmain is
a Berber, and this is the first time a Berber holds such
a high office in Libya.
Outbreak of violence in Benghazi
The problem of armed militia groups acting on their
own is raised when the protesters demand that an
influential militia in Benghazi be disarmed. At least 30
people die when violence breaks out between protesters
and militiamen, and over 100 are injured. The army
chief, who has already been accused of inefficiency, is
The ICC wants Saif al-Islam extradited
The Court in The Hague rejects Libya's request to
bring the Gaddison prison to justice in the home
country. One reason is that he is not held by the state,
but by the militia group that captured him at the end of
The President resigns
Mohammed Magarief announces his departure in an
emotionally charged speech, as a result of the new law
of isolation. Magarief was Libya's ambassador to India
in the 1980s and was then opposition leader in exile for
Siege of ministries is lifted
The militants who have taken two ministries in
Tripoli (see April 2013) leave a week after the law on
political isolation was adopted
Gaddafit officials may not have political services
Parliament adopts "Law on Political Isolation".
According to critics, the law is so vaguely designed
that it could be applied to almost anyone who worked for
the state between 1969 and 2011.
Still unsure in Tripoli
A group of men armed with, among other things,
anti-aircraft weapons mounted on pickups surround the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice.
They require people who worked for the Gaddafi regime to
be suspended from public services.
Explosion at the Embassy of France
Two guards are injured and extensive material damage
occurs in the explosion, likely caused by a car bomb. It
is the first time a foreign embassy has been attacked in
Decision on constitutional assembly
6th of February
The National Congress decides that the assembly that
will write a new constitution must be elected in direct
elections. According to the decision, 60 members are to
be elected, 20 each from the three regions.
NFA boycott parliament
The boycott is a protest against the delay in the
work of drawing up a new constitution. The NFA also
states as a reason that the work of the National
Congress is chaotic, and that security is poor.