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Democracy and tea breaks: Training teachers in Tripoli

Speech, discussion and debate.

The right to freedom of expression was fully exercised during a week-long teacher training programme for master trainers in Tripoli, facilitated by Save the Children in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.

Democracy and tea breaks

In their enthusiasm for newly gained rights, participants took it upon themselves to vote for a participant president during the training programme. One of the president’s responsibilities was the negotiation of tea breaks – not surprisingly with a majority in favour of longer ones.

Although it was a symbolic exercise, it provided an opportunity for participants to try out a classroom activity about the transfer of citizenship rights. There was even a peaceful re-election mid-week.


Training is seen as critical by the Ministry of Education, with the role of teachers and the school playing an important healing role within the community.

The Ministry is keen to provide teacher training that focuses on the wellbeing of the teacher and the student, is grounded in children’s rights, and that incorporates aspects of positive discipline, active learning and inclusive education.

This training of master trainers will then cascade down to the training of teachers and is being fast-tracked to reach as many teachers as possible before the beginning of the new school year in January 2012.


During one session participants were asked for definitions of who or what a teacher is. One participant responded, “A candle that burns to light up other people.” A lively discussion ensued about how teachers and their families are coping themselves in the post-conflict context, let alone providing psychosocial support to students to help them overcome traumatic experiences.

Participants shared stories that pointed to the needs, but that also highlighted the strengths and resilience of Libyans – anecdotes to build on. During the last day, when participants had an opportunity to exhibit what they have learned, they skillfully adapted sessions to fit their context and classrooms.

Working together

In the coming months and years, the Ministry of Education will make key decisions on curriculum development and will continue strengthening education systems. Many new topics are likely to come into teacher training.

Save the Children aims to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, contributing our global experience and resources to develop training that supports Libya’s teachers to be brightly burning candles.

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