Problems encountered while collecting primary data
Libya is in the throes of a violent upheaval with forces loyal and opposed to Gaddafi battling it out tooth and nail in the arid deserts of the country. With Gaddafi indiscriminately bombing his own countrymen with deadly ammunition, even prohibited ammunition as cluster bombs, the scenario is grim, to say the least. With the ragtag forces they have at their disposal, people opposing Gaddafi are putting up a stiff resistance and vow to fight till the end. When the opposing forces are so determined it is but natural that the conflict would surely be long drawn out and very vicious. With the entry of NATO, ostensibly to save innocent Libyans from the murderous forces of Gaddafi, and resorting to equally indiscriminate bombing of Gaddafi’s strongholds, including Libyan capital Tripoli, widespread death, destruction and bloodshed have become the order of the day.
In such circumstances where physical survival has often come under a cloud of doubt, any serious response about the state of education in Libya was rather difficult to come by. Moreover, the current educational infrastructure has been created by Gaddafi and with sentiments for and against Gaddafi being so extremely polarized, expecting unbiased and objective response from Libyans was perhaps asking for a bit too much.
The researcher was more interested to find out the state of secondary and primary education in numerous oases that dotted the arid Libyan landscape as a proper test of the education system lies in its ability to reach the least privileged among the citizens of a country. The researcher was particularly interested in examining the state of education in the oases of Siwa, Jaghbub and Jalo as these happen to be most populated oases in that country. However, interviews or responses to the questionnaire from this section of the citizens could not be obtained as access to these places has become severely restricted owing to the current crisis in that country.
But this drawback has been somewhat overcome by interviewing and collecting responses from people who have now shifted abroad for further higher education but had been residing in those places and had obtained their primary and secondary education from makeshift and camp schools that have been set up by Gaddafi in those areas. But there can be no denying that responses from persons who are actually experiencing such education at the date of interview would have been far more authentic. Also, the views of these expatriates are often colored by other considerations and are not always reflective of ground reality. Nonetheless, in the absence of any other source of information, the researcher has analyzed the primary data collected from such interviews and responses to questionnaires with utmost care to weed out any apparent biases inherent in such responses.
The data collection from capital Tripoli and other urban centers as Az Zawiyah and Al Bayda was much easier in the sense that direct telephone connection could be established with a bit of effort and students could be contacted and their responses documented. As mentioned earlier, responses from teachers and professors were not recorded as it was observed that those responses were more of parroting of official line rather than genuine personal reflections. It could be that given the current state of uncertainty in that country the teachers and professors were not willing to openly speak out their minds. This, of course, is only a conjecture; the researcher has no means to prove that the apprehension is genuine.
However, the researcher could not establish contact with students residing in the cities of Benghazi and Misrata, two of the most populous and prosperous cities other then the capital Tripoli. The situation in these two urban centers is extremely volatile and educational attainment is now probably the last thing the citizens of these two cities have in their minds. The researcher located in United Kingdom Libyan students that had been residing in these cities and recorded their responses in face-to-face interviews, taking care, as already mentioned earlier, to eradicate biases that might have crept into their responses owing to the current political atmosphere in their country.
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