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Libya - Constitutional & Legal Foundations

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Constitutional Provisions: The 1969 constitution decreed compulsory free education through the ninth grade. It mandated adult education and began providing more opportunities for women to become educated. This same constitution stated education's aims. Article 28 states that every Libyan shall have the right to an education. The state shall ensure the diffusion of education by means of the establishment of public schools and private schools, which it may permit to be established for Libyans and foreigners under its supervision. Article 29 states that teaching shall be unrestricted so long as it does not constitute a breach of public order and is not contrary to morality. Public education shall be regulated by law. Article 30 states that elementary education shall be compulsory for Libyan children of both sexes; elementary and primary education in the public schools shall be free.

By 1951, a new constitution made primary education free, compulsory, and open to all. The government supervised foreign schools. As of 1967, there were 248,942 students enrolled in Libya's 1,044 schools. Two universities were started, Gar Yunis or the University of Benghazi, specializing in the Arts and Education, as well as commerce and law. The second, Al-Fetah University or the University of Tripoli, specializing in agriculture and teacher training.

Educational Philosophies: When the Free Officer's Movement overthrew the monarchy on 1 September 1969, they initiated a socialist revolution rooted in Muslim values. Colonel Qadhafi was part of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). They rapidly set up a General People's Congress (GPC) as an executive and legislative body with 1,000 members. This organization was reproduced repeatedly down to the local level, where it is known as General People's Committees. Their idea was simple: bring government close to the people and let the "will of the people" rule. This was supposed to bring decision making down to the local level and create widespread participation. Such direct democracy is called "natural socialism" by Qadhafi. It seeks to establish social and economic equality as its ultimate goal. In February 1981, Qadhafi said, "If this nation is to win, then it must not differentiate between men and women, since the enemy is against each one of us." He went on to add, "Education is not a purpose in itself. The purpose is to create the new man. Specialization can be imported from their origin, but the independent citizen cannot. The difference is vast between specialization and liberty. The cost of the first is money, and of the second is 'blood."' In the Green Book, Qadhafi states, "society should provide all types of education, giving people the chance to choose freely any subjects they wish to learn. This requires a sufficient number of schools of all types of education. . .knowledge is a natural right of every human being which nobody has the right to deprive him of." He also stressed the need for religious education in schools.

Teachers are told they can contribute more than their traditional work in the classroom. Their "duty" involves going out to the people's circles and groups around the schools and teaching and guiding everyone toward a better understanding of Libya's revolution. Qadhafi claims that, "If every teacher makes a revolution in his own circle, we will find that the Jamahirya will be covered with all these revolutionary circles. Similarly, doctors, nurses, agricultural instructors, and others need to make such a revolution in their own circles. . .for the total transformation of our society." Even children are taught that they must learn to make revolution because the people are the state. Libyans believe there can be no such thing as individual action. Achievements are made by mass action of the entire nation through people's congresses, committees, and unions. Children are taught that they must participate in revolution, not just accept and obey what their teachers tell them. Students are told that they must transform Libyan society through continual revolution. This is said to be the student's patriotic duty.

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