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Libya Education Facts


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 system.

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 2014.

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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 school.

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.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

98.1 percent (1983)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

17 (1983)

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 country.


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 culture.


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 employees.


New President

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 retiring.


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 2011.

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 31 years.

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 Libya.


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.

Libya Best Colleges and Universities