School days, school days....
I read this today in the AngolaPress: The League of Arab school-teachers in
When I came to
When Adam reached the age where he would begin school we seriously thought about putting him in
Why? For many reasons, first is that even though I'm American and a native English speaker, my kid's native language is Arabic. Though we speak English in our home, often we speak Arabic too, and all around them they are surrounded by Arabic and Libyan culture. We didn't want to mess up their identity by sending them to a school full of foreign kids, with foreign ideas, who would be just passing through their lives as soon as their parent's work contracts finished. Arabic language and an Arabic/Libyan identity were too important. We wanted the kids to have that stability.
Another reason for enrolling the children in Libyan public schools is the 'wasta factor'. Wasta, the Libyan term meaning connections, is extremely important in the day to day life of all Libyans. You need the right wasta (connections) to accomplish many things here and wasta is something that you have to obtain throughout your life. Often times my husband will go somewhere to get something done (paperwork, licenses, healthcare, etc.) and be helped out by someone that he grew up with or attended primary school with, etc. The net of connections are not just those related to you, they can be friends, neighbours, old classmates or people you work with, past and present. We thought that by putting our kids in schools intended for foreign workers we would be denying our kids possible wasta they might need to get through their lives.
Actually, we did dabble a bit in the Libyan private school sector but we soon gave up and put them in public schools as we discovered it was just a waste of money. We found that these schools were being run as money making businesses and not as places of education.
Libyan school systems have a major disaster on their hands when it comes to English. At one point English was removed completely from the curriculum and that in my opinion was a huge mistake. They are trying to correct this, but I have serious doubts that there will be any improvements in the near future. Not only are the textbooks a disaster (with errors on every single page of the new course book for elementary school students) they are also lacking in teachers to teach this subject. It's a huge dilemma - they didn't teach English for years so they weren't training anyone who could teach future generations. Forget grammar, my daughter's English teacher didn't even know the alphabet!
Some say having private language institutes is the answer. I work in a private institute, and yes, it is one way for Libyans to learn the language or improve their capabilities, but the majority of Libyans can't afford to pay to take courses and Libyans who live in smaller towns or outlying areas most likely won't have the opportunity. Here too, is a shortage of teachers.
Learning English is one of the problems Libyan students face, but they have major obstacles in other areas too. Mostly it's having teachers that just simply don't care. They are often absent, and when they are present are seldom prepared to give a proper lesson. Being a school teacher is just a way for a housewife to make a bit of pocket money and get out of the house for a few hours everyday. There are those few who care about their work, but they are too few to make the difference.
Exams are basically a farce - my kids say the teachers usually walk around giving the students the answers, allowing all forms of cheating. Creating exams is an art in itself and it's clearly evident from looking at my kid's exam papers that most teachers don't even have a clue about how to write a proper exam.
Another reason we chose Libyan schools was for tertiary education. Upon graduation from the English curriculum schools what would we do about university? They obviously wouldn't have enough Arabic to be able to attend
My oldest child is still in high school so we're gearing ourselves up to face university in a few years. University students face many problems (that's a whole book itself), but with all the trials and tribulations that make up the education of Libyans, for those who apply themselves there are rewards.
It will be years before my children are finished with their education, and I suppose I will worry about their offspring's education as well. One thing that I often remind them is that 'You can have your house taken away from you, your money stolen or lose your possessions, but once you put something inside your brain it's very hard to take it away. Keep studying and working on obtaining knowledge!'
It's true, Libyan teachers need to enhance their performance if they expect