UNICEF supports enhanced Early Childhood Development in Libya

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Press release

TRIPOLI, Libya, 19 July 2012 – UNICEF is supporting the Libyan Government to enhance the availability and quality of Early Childhood Development services to children across the country.

ECD event Tripoli 18 July

©UNICEF Libya 2012/Echeverry Burckhardt
UNICEF Libya Deputy Representative Dr Katrin Imhof, Deputy Minister of Education Dr Suleiman Khoja(left of Imhof), and Ms Najiba Istaita(left of Dr Khoja in blue suit jacket) along with some of her team members at the Early Childhood Development Panel Discussion in a Tripoli school

As part of this support, the Libyan Department of Early Childhood Development (ECD) within the Ministry of Education yesterday held its second panel discussion on the importance of ECD in the development of young children, following a similar event in Benghazi last month.

According to the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization Global Monitoring Report (2011), the gross enrolment ratio in pre-primary education was below 10 per cent in 2008 and is among the lowest in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Research has repeatedly proven that investing in Early Childhood Development develops human capital, catalyzes economic growth, and encourages greater social equity.

“The early years of a child’s life are in fact crucial, and if well nurtured and cared for, children are more likely to grow and positively develop thinking, language, emotional, and social skills”, said Dr Katrin Imhof, UNICEF Libya Deputy Representative.

“The awareness around the importance of Early Childhood Development among policy makers and the general public needs to be improved”, said Ms Najiba Istaita, Head of the ECD Department. “This is why we are organizing this second panel discussion here today”. “Most of the few existing kindergartens are in bad shape, are not child-friendly, and there is no curriculum for pre-primary education in place,” Ms Isteita added.

Only a small percentage of educators working in kindergartens today are certified teachers, and even fewer have specialized in early childhood. UNICEF is working closely with the relevant departments of the Ministry of Education in planning and implementing responses to assist all children, especially the most vulnerable. This includes the establishment of model ECD centres managed by trained personnel; standards and policy development for Early Learning; improving pre- and in-service teacher training focusing on positive discipline and other child-friendly and human-rights based interventions to improve learning processes in families, ECD centres and schools.

With assistance from the European Union and other donors, UNICEF supports Libyian broad-based education interventions, both in post-conflict and more long-term issues. Children in Libya have relatively good access to primary education, but better quality and more relevant teaching are required to ensure that the system is more responsive to gender disparities, minorities and children with disabilities.


UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For more information about UNICEF’s work in education visit: www.unicef.org/education or www.educationandtransition.org

For further information, please contact:

Yosi Echverry Burckhardt
+218 91 93 59 765

Simon Ingram
UNICEF MENA Regional Office
+962 79 590 4740

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