Ahmed leaving his classroom at Al Kholoud Primary School. Photo credit: ©UNDP Libya/ Abduladhim Ajaj

Ahmed Al Abani is a nine-year-old grade four student at Al Kholoud Primary School in Sirt who has been enrolled in the school since grade one.  He moves with a wheelchair, but unfortunately for many years the school was not accessible for people with disabilities. 

"We live on the same street as Al Kholoud, and I work there. Hence, it was logical for us to take Ahmed to that school," explained Khairy Hussin, Ahmed’s mother and teacher at Al Kholoud.

After the violent clashes that erupted in the city in 2016, Ahmed and his family fled to Tripoli.  Life was not easy for the family displaced in the Capital. Furthermore, Ahmed’s parents could not find a school close to their house, or one that was accessible for him with his disability. This impacted negatively on Ahmed’s studies.

One of the damaged side of Al Kholoud School before and after renovation. Photo credit: ©UNDP Libya/Abdeladeem Ajaj
One of the damaged classrooms at Al Kholoud school before and after renovation. Photo: ©UNDP Libya/abdeladeem Ajaj

 

Returning to a city with almost no schools operating

Ahmed’s family returned home as soon as security situation stabilized.

"When war ended in Sirt, we returned immediately. My son was very excited to come back to his school and see his friends and teachers. But at that time, the school was closed because of the damage from the fighting,” said Ahmed’s mother. “My husband and I thought a lot about where to take Ahmed. We even thought to go back to Tripoli," she added. 

"When we heard the school was to be rehabilitated, we were very happy and full of hope," said Ahmed’s mother.

"I have been working at Al Kholoud for years. When I returned to Sirt, the situation in the school was very bad.  Almost everything had been looted or burnt. Most of the classrooms were in poor condition," declares Zaineb Alhasnawy, teacher at Al Kholoud.   

The conflict left only a few schools in Sirt standing, which exacerbated the problem of overcrowding. Several families could not find a place for their children and were forced to leave again.               

Ahmed leaving his classroom at Al Kholoud Primary School. Photo credit: ©UNDP Libya/ Abduladhim Ajaj

 

Renovating schools and easing access to all

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 services to their citizens.

The SFL renovated Al Kholoud Primary School and handed it over to Sirt Municipality in 2018. In addition to rehabilitated classrooms, the center now has a covered playground where students can play at any time, even when it is raining. It is accessible to persons with disabilities as well. 

"Rehabilitation has been carried out correctly and the center can host students again. They are very happy to learn in such environment," said Mr Meftah Khakis Masood, the School Director.

"In the school, moving from one place to another is very easy for persons with disabilities. All the corridors are ready for them," added Meftah.

"I can easily access all the classrooms and different learning spaces in the school," Ahmed explained.

The SFL has undertaken several projects in Sirt, including delivery of ambulances to Ibn Sina hospital, delivery of five garbage trucks and 200 garbage bins, and the renovation of Aqba Ibn Nafi , Al Ittihad , Khawla Bint Azur, Sana Ibn Youssef and Al Fath schools.  

Ahmed’ s classmates at Al Kholoud School in Sirt. Photo credit: ©UNDP Libya/ Abduladhim Ajaj

 

A new life started for Ahmed

Ahmed joined again Al Kholoud School after its renovation. The situation has now improved as the access to classrooms is easier than before.

"When I returned to school, I was overwhelmed with joy, especially when I saw my friends again," said Ahmed. "In the past, we could not practice sport or play in the playground, especially in winter because it did not have roof.  Now, we can play at any time, before going to classrooms or during sport lessons," he added.

"Now Ahmed is among the top students in his class," stated Khairy. "Ahmed returns home with a happy face. Every day he tells me how he spent his day with friends and about his dreams for the future," explained his mother. "I would like to be a medical doctor when I grow up," Ahmed explained.

Access to Education for Ahmed

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