Aid & Development

Terrorists in Sirte left behind a legacy of ruin for schools

North Africa

School staff in the Libyan city of Sirte are hoping to see more aid to support them and the students.

Teachers in the Libyan city of Sirte have bemoaned the current state of schools after their destruction and dilapidation at the hands of extremist groups.

Sirte, which is a coastal city located in Government of National Accord (GNA)-held territory, was one of the main ISIS strongholds in Libya during the group’s height in 2015. GNA-aligned forces, as part of the loose coalition known as al-Bunyan al-Marsous, recaptured Sirte completely in December 2016, although ISIS had already been defeated in much of the city by that time.

Prior to ISIS’ advent in the city, Sirte was also a loyalist stronghold during the early years of the civil war, acting as a major base for pro-Gaddafi fighters before the former Libyan leader was killed and the city captured in October 2011.

Following the conflict and ISIS’ occupation of Sirte, schools in the city have become heavily damaged. While some schools have managed to reopen, others are finding it more difficult to accommodate the returning students. The Taqerfet Martyrs School is one such case with buildings in disrepair, no electricity, and windows smashed and broken.

“The new academic year began today in Sirte,” said one teacher from the school, “and we are teaching without electricity or doors and we do not have enough chairs and each 3 students are sharing one desk”.

The New Generation School is also facing similar difficulties. Teachers and guardians speak of a general lack of support, whether domestically or from aid organisations that used to visit the city.

“In the city of Sirte we require support due to lack of money to buy chairs and school uniforms,” said one father of a pupil at the New Generation School. “We hope that education officials will help us, especially if they see our situation, as we have not been receiving any money the last three months. How do we expect the students’ guardians to buy books and book bags?”

The seven-year conflict in Libya, coupled with widespread economic instability, have threatened to stall education across the country as the new academic year begins and the price of school equipment increases. In some areas of Libya, parents are travelling up to 200km just to find cheaper supplies for their kids.