Located in Wadi Otba Municipality in South Libya, Taqrouteen School has been around since 1970. Originally a simple brick building set up through community efforts, the school faced challenges over the years due to poor maintenance. With just four run-down and overcrowded classrooms, the learning environment was inadequate. The school’s poor condition mirrored the broader challenges faced by its students, needing significant improvements in facilities and infrastructure.
“Studying here used to be so hard. The classrooms were dark, and I could barely see what was on the blackboard. It also felt unsafe with all the cracks in the walls and the ceiling looking like it could fall any moment”
Aliya Abdul Qadir (11), a ninth-grade student
Students at Taqrouteen School struggled with an inadequate classroom conditions and poor environment, reflecting the deeper issue of the school’s infrastructure. Deteriorating walls and ceilings not only hindered learning but also created a sense of danger and unease, impacting their focus and sense of safety.
“Going to school was tough, not like a place to learn at all. We had only one unclean bathroom for all; the boys, girls, and the teachers. Most of the time, we had to go back home or to the nearby mosque just to use a clean bathroom” adds Aliya.
The lack of basic amenities, such as proper toilets and clean drinking water, sheds light on the reality that the physical environment and the basic infrastructural facilities play a crucial role in shaping the learning experience and underscores the fundamental link between adequate facilities and the ability of students to focus and engage in their studies.
“We used to struggle a lot during the summer due to the lack of air conditioning, especially since summers are quite intense in this region” Explained Khadija Mohammed Sulaiman a teacher for the fifth grade. She elucidated how the classrooms situation affected the engaging learning atmosphere for students and that the scarcity of basic educational resources further limited their ability to provide a diverse and enriching educational experience, stifling both their teaching potential and their students’ learning opportunities.
Salih Al-Mahdi Basha, the school’s principal, faced administrative and operational challenges due to the school’s infrastructure problems. Managing the school under such conditions was tough, as he had to ensure student and staff safety in a deteriorating building.
He noted, “With limited resources, we often had to choose between essential repairs and educational quality. The burden of providing a good learning environment in these tough conditions was significant.”
In 2022, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, had undertaken a project to rehabilitate and construct a football pitch. This pitch quickly became a resounding success, transforming into a vibrant hub not only for the school’s students but also for young people across the city. It provided a space for sports, recreation, and community gathering, fostering community and youth engagement. Noticing the urgent needs of the nearby Taqrouteen School, the UNICEF team, after a detailed assessment and consultation with the Ministry of Education, realized the school urgently needed rehabilitation.
Recognizing the urgent need for better facilities, UNICEF installed four prefabricated classrooms and a prefabricated restroom facility to improve hygiene. Additionally, the school’s essential services received a significant upgrade. A new water supply and drainage system were installed for clean and safe water, the electrical network was modernized with new lighting fixtures and outlets to enhance visibility and safety, and air conditioning units were added to each classroom for comfort in hot weather.
“We’ve now moved to the new school, and it’s perfect. The blackboards, desks and chairs are new. The restrooms as well, designated for boys, girls, and teachers with clean drinking water. I am so happy that we now have a better space to play during the breaks” Said Suleiman Hamadi Suleiman (14) a ninth-grade student.
In addition, the school’s appearance and functionality were further improved with new slide windows and doors, and the interiors were upgraded with tiles and marble. Additionally, to ensure easy and safe access around the school, UNICEF worked on the school’s walkways so paths are safer to walk on now.
“The air flow is good, with air conditioning, a play area, and shades to protect us from the sun and heat. Ever since we entered the new school, I feel so much better than I did in the old one. I am happy my understanding of the lessons has greatly improved.” Said Aliya
The impact of these changes was profound. The teachers have found new joy in teaching. The students experienced a noticeable improvement in their academic performance, with the enhanced environment contributing significantly to their comprehension and grades.
” I’ve noticed a remarkable change in my son’s attitude towards school. He now has a great passion for it and looks forward to going to school, especially to the new classrooms. The improvement in my son’s academic level is evident; there’s no longer any anxiety or boredom in class. Other parents and I have always appreciated this, and we thank UNICEF and the Ministry of Education for this initiative.” Ezzidin Abubaker, a parent.
These interventions at Taqrouteen School have had a profound impact, catering to the needs of 130 students per shift, as well as 48 teachers and staff members. This significant enhancement in the school’s capacity and infrastructure not only improves the learning environment but also supports the dedicated students and teachers daily.
This initiative is part of UNICEF’s support to ensure increased capacities of education providers to deliver inclusive, gender-responsive and quality education and skills development to children and young people.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF, Middle East and North Africa.