The Institute of International Education convened a high-level roundtable discussion on higher education in Libya. Moderated by Dr. Allan E. Goodman, IIE's President and CEO, the discussion focused on themes such as the role of education in reconstruction and development in Libya and private sector involvement.
The roundtable featured leading individuals representing the Libyan and U.S. private sectors, the U.S. and Libyan higher education institutions and the U.S. government, including Ms. Alina Romanowski, Senior Advisor, Middle East Bureau, U.S. Agency for International Development; Dr. Mohamed Bara, Professor of Electrical Engineering at Tripoli University; Mr. Tamim Baiou, President, AlRakiza Training; Mr. Chuck Dittrich, Executive Director, U.S.-Libya Business Association; and Mr. Daniel Deming, Director of Intercultural Management Institute, School of International Services, American University. Attendees of the event included leading U.S. university administrators, U.S. Department of State, and international organizations such as the World Bank.
The goals of the roundtable were to:
- Assess the current landscape in Libya and the priorities of the U.S. Government, private sector and Libyan Government with regards to higher education reform and workforce training.
- Outline and identify the needs of Libyan higher education sector and how to engage U.S. institutions in the capacity building and reform efforts.
- The role of education in the reconstruction and development in Libya and how to engage the private sector in the process.
Key themes that emerged from the roundtable include:
- Emphasis was placed on the urgent need for collaboration between U.S. and Libyan faculty with regards to curriculum development, capacity building, infrastructure support, and faculty exchanges. These new relationships must be based on partnerships rather than assistance-based.
- It was indicated that there will be a greater focus on workforce training in the following key areas: entrepreneurship, business management, hospitality and tourism, English language and technical training.
- The U.S. private sector companies with a presence in Libya are highly energized about creating programs and pathways to investing in education and training-based corporate social responsibility initiatives for Libyan youth, who will eventually feed in to the workforce base of these private sector companies.
- There is a sense of enthusiasm among the Libyan youth towards the future of international exchanges, particularly to the U.S. This enthusiasm must be capitalized on by working towards establishing exchange programs funded by the new transitional Libyan government and with support from the private sector.
- Allow Libyan universities to become spaces of creativity, where students will be encouraged explore and develop in new directions not previously encouraged under the old regime.