Fatma Ali Mohammed is teaching reading at Al Maaifa school in Kikla. The facility was renovated and equipped by the Stabilization Facility for Libya. Photo: ©UNDP Libya /Malek Almaghrebi

In Kikla, Fatma Ali Mohammed spent 19 years teaching elementary Arabic at Al Maaifa School. She was so dedicated to her job that it was only after the violent clashes erupted in 2014 that she left Kikla with her family for Tripoli.  Those few days stretched into weeks, which stretched into months and eventually years.

"Unfortunately, we stayed for almost two years in Tripoli during the period of the conflict when our school was damaged," said Fatma Ali Mohammed.

Students in a classroom at Al Maaifa school. Photo: ©UNDP Libya /Malek Almaghrebi

Return to Kikla amid destruction

Fatma and her family were not the only ones forced to flee Kikla. Many people in her city found themselves in the same situation, her colleagues from the school among them.  It wasn’t until 2016 that the first schools reopened in the city and she was able to return to Kikla.

"We do not have any school that has not been affected by the conflict. This has made the process of stabilizing the education sector in the city difficult and time-consuming," said Shukri al-Sakur, head of the Kikla Educational Monitoring Sector.  Kikla Municipality has eight primary and secondary schools; all of them were damaged by the conflict in 2014.

Children learn playing at the classroom. Photo: ©UNDP Libya /Malek Almaghrebi

Al Maaifa School served up to 250 students from different cities in the Western Mountain area and was especially known organizing cultural and social activities in the surrounding area.

"Prior to the conflcit in 2014, the school was one of the most successful schools in Kikla. It had an excellent teaching environment that included computer and science labs, as well as a fully equipped theater. In addition, it had the best teachers in the region and over the years, its students were on the first rank at the level of the region’’ said Sulaiman Qashish, director of Al Maaifa school.

In the wake of the conflict, the citizens were forced to flee and schools closed down. Two years later, people began to return to their homes, only to find them ransacked.  Private properties weren’t the only casualties; public buildings were also devastated, robbed of their equipment and left with major structural damage.

"When we returned to school in 2016, we could not believe what we were seeing. The building was damaged, and all the equipment stolen or destroyed. We were very sad, " said Fatma.  Despite these difficulties, the school rallied together and opened its door to students.

"The students' chairs were damaged. Three students were sitting on one. This was uncomfortable for them. The writing boards were worn and not good. It took time to clean them and this was having a negative impact on lesson time. In general, the environment was demotivating, for teachers as well as students’’, Fatma explained.

‘’There were 60 students in the first school year after the city reopened in 2016 because the rest of the students and their families could not return. There was still instability in the city and their homes were damaged,” Sulaiman added.

Fatma Ali Mohammed has now a cupboard where she can keep her tools. Photo: ©UNDP Libya /Malek Almaghrebi

Looking for solutions

Led by national and municipal Libyan institutions and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Stabilization Facility for Libya (SFL) is an immediate stabilization initiative, which provides quick rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and delivery of equipment to support local authorities to improve its services to their citizens.

Launched in 2016, it has currently undertaken over 285 investment products in seven cities, especially in critical areas such as repairing hospitals and schools, providing health and emergency equipment and other municipal needs related to civil defense, public health and access to justice.

In partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Planning, the SFL renovated educational facilities including Al Maaifa school and provided school furniture. Students are now learning in a more comfortable environment and developing their skills while playing.  Teachers are also carrying out their duties easily as well.

Students are learning while playing at Al Maaifa school in Kikla. The Stabilization Facility for Libya has delivered this furniture. Photo: ©UNDP/Malek Almaghrebi

Renovated facility, more students back to school

The SFL project, implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) renovated the facility and provided a range of school furniture and basic equipment to improve the learning environment.

"Two years after the reopening of the school and thanks to the support given to us, the number of students has increased to 150 from different levels and from various neighboring cities," Suleiman said.

Fatima agrees. "The situation has now changed with the availability of new equipment and furniture, which are essential for the continuation of the educational process. We are beginning to feel more comfortable with a new environment.”

It is not just the students that are benefitting from the improved facilities. The teachers find themselves inspired as well.

"I consider this school as my second house and not just a regular job. I view my students as my own children and this motivates me to do my best," Fatma concluded.

Icon of SDG 04 Icon of SDG 16 Icon of SDG 17

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Libya 
Go to UNDP Global