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Libya crisis: I want to go to school

It is a notable moment as an educator when a child approaches you with a mixture of excitement and pride, schoolbooks in her arms and a big smile on her face — she enjoys learning. That is exactly how I had the privilege of meeting Miriam, an eleven-year-old Eritrean girl in Choucha camp in Tunisia, right on the Libya border.

Save the Children runs a ‘child friendly space’ — a safe area for children to play and learn — in the camp. The majority of children using the space are under the age of five. Recently, however, there has been an increase of school-aged children showing up, eager for learning activities, and Miriam was one of them.

Miriam arrived at Choucha camp with her 28-year-old mother, bringing little with them apart from their essentials in a suitcase and for Miriam, a cherished pink backpack filled with her schoolbooks and a stack of report cards displaying impressively high marks.

Eager to learn

On her first visit to the child friendly space, Miriam came prepared and keen to continue with her learning, bringing her books in the hopes that someone would help her continue her studies.

Upon meeting Miriam, she took time presenting each schoolbook and every positive mark on her report card, fluently reading passages in English and sharing stories about her school in Tripoli.

Miriam is fortunate to have a mother who values education and was able to prioritise sending her only daughter to a private school in Tripoli. Fortunately, Miriam’s mother found work in Libya and was able to pay the private school tuition.

The importance of child friendly spaces

Many other children in the child friendly space shared how they weren’t able to attend school as their parents didn’t have the means to pay for the fees and they weren’t allowed to attend the public schools as non-Libyans.

In conversations with Miriam’s mother, she openly shared her hopes that education would allow Miriam a positive future, “I want her to go to school because she is my lovely daughter. She is so clever.”

Miriam and her mother’s situation underscores Save the Children’s advocacy for education in emergencies and our efforts to support temporary learning spaces for school-aged children displaced by the crisis in Libya.

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