UNICEF and the Libyan Ministry of education are rehabilitating schools as part of their efforts to reach SDG 4
25 August 2023
Imagine leaving your school due to conflict, uncertain of a return. Ayham lived this when his school was destroyed.
Ayham was forced to leave his school in Tripoli when the conflict erupted in March 2020. His school was bombed and destroyed, along with many other educational institutions in Libya that have suffered from the lack of maintenance. The ongoing conflict had put the residents in extreme trepidation, and the heavy bombardment was threatening them from one side while COVID-19 was threatening from the other.
When the situation calmed down, Libya’s Ministry of Education of Libya partnered with UNICEF, to identify and rehabilitate the schools that had been most damaged by the conflict. Ayham’s school, Khalifa Alhejaje School in Souq-Aljumaa municipality, Tripoli, was among them. With funding from the German and Japanese governments, the roof was moisture treated, the school was painted inside and out; all doors and windows were replaced; new lights were installed in all the classrooms corridors, and offices; the toilets were maintained; and damage from the bombing was repaired.
Ayham was delighted to be able to return to the school that he loves, and he was amazed by all the changes that had happened. "The temporary school was boring and too small; we don't feel comfortable in that place. We love our school, and we feel restful there, we wanted to go back to it," Ayham said. He now feels comfortable in the school, and he appreciates the new environment that has been created. "We used to feel cold sometimes in the winter because of the bad shape the windows were, but now the classroom is cozy and compatible," Ayham said.
UNICEF's rehabilitation of the school has not only benefited Ayham but also many other students who are attending there.
Ms. Fatema Alkhatab, the assistant principal of the school, has been working there since 1991, stating: "Although we were trying to be distinctive with a high-quality learning environment in the previous years, what happened to the school recently was depressing for us, and we felt disappointed at the beginning, but when we received support from UNICEF, we regained the hope to achieve our goal."
Khalifa Alhejaje school is also famous for its sport activities and for discovering talents in football. Youssef Alnajar, the captain of the school's main football team, is in grade six, and he is twelve years old. Youssef's dream is to be a champion in sports, especially football. UNICEF, in partnership with Libyana Telecom Company, supported the school by creating a safe space in the form of a football yard, which added a lot to Youssef, the school, and the surrounding community. "We didn't like the other place we used to study in when our school had been destroyed by missiles as it does not have a football yard," Youssef said.
This rehabilitation initiative is emblematic of a broader vision shared by global communities, one that envisions every child, irrespective of their circumstances, receiving quality education. The commitment to restoring the Khalifa Alhejaje school is tied to the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) that seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. UNICEF's dedicated efforts in Libya, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, are pivotal strides towards achieving this goal. It's not merely about reconstructing physical structures; it's about rebuilding futures, fostering resilience, and setting the stage for the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and doers.