Enlighten Me and Restart Schools in Benghazi

As the crisis continues in Benghazi, we suffer a lot from multiple issues. One of the issues I mentioned in the previous topic was the educational halt. As a reaction to this stop, appeared many efforts to restart schools and learning cycle. However, these efforts emerged as separate and individual efforts, and they need to be unified in one vast initiative. One of them is called Nauwarni Initiative, and I think it’s the most sophisticated one.

English teacher volunteer gives  classes in different locations including Mosques Enlighten Me initiative, or Nauwarni, is basically a movement by civil society organizations sponsored by the National Council for Freedom and Human Rights. Their main and the only target is to restore schools in Benghazi. They started with several goals to reach their main target, evolving on the current situation in Benghazi and how to embrace the crisis and restart the schools. They developed several goals, and theses are some of them:

  • Restarting education in schools located in safe areas: More than 75% of Benghazi is under the army control, and these areas are safe and contain large numbers of schools. Most of these schools are untouched. Others have some less damages in some parts due to some near by clashes happened in previous months. Nauwarni asks officials to reopen these schools in order to catch up with the current academic year as long as these areas are totally safe.
  • Restarting education within schools occupied by refugees: According to Nauwarni, there are more than 40 schools occupied by refugees. However, most of these schools are not occupied 100%. There are empty classes, and the courtyard could be used as one large outside class. In order to restart learning for students who live in these schools, Nauwrni is welling to provide teachers and schools supplies to these schools.
  • Students who are now living outside Benghazi should enroll in schools: Nauwarni says government should track these students in different cities, such as Al-Marj and Al-Bida. They must develop a process to make sure it is easy for students to enroll with no burden of official papers and other things.
  • Checking with students who are refugees outside Libya: Some families had to travel outside Libya, most of them in Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan. Nauwarni demands the government to check on these students by contacting with Libyan embassies, to make sure they catch up with their studies.
  • Re-activate “Home Education” system and launching a TV channel: In 90s, Libya had a system called Home Education, which focuses on learning only at homes. Parents who are able to teach their kids at home, could register their kids in this system. At the end of the academic year, they allowed to take the final exam as the regular students. This system was supplemented with a local TV channel broadcasting only classes. Nauwrni thinks that it is the best time to re-activate this system again as the war continues. There are many parents who are welling to teach their kids at home nowadays. Nauwrni also now working on launching a TV channel on Nilesat. They start recording the classes and should be broadcasting soon. There are other online courses, such as Benghazi Skype School, but the current internet fluctuated speed in Benghazi makes it more difficult to follow with these classes.

To this moment, there is nothing serious attempt to restart schools in Benghazi. The only and main issue is the security. One of the school administrators told me that it’s our responsibility to provide the safe environment for the kids. Parents will hesitate to send their kids while they can listen to sound of explosions. He describes the issue of security as the main issue, fearing that these kids could be targeted by terrorist attacks. I believe it is important to keep these students safe, but we have to deal with education safety first. We’ve seen images from Japan after the Hiroshima bomb showing kids in damaged classes (Or even no schools at all) . If we have, for example 40,000 students, our goal should be to restart learning at least 50% of them. In other words, reducing the damadge in the education system as low as possible.

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