After the recent political changes encountered by several North-African and Middle-Eastern countries, their people are recovering from the ordeals they suffered and some new institutions are about to be installed following a democratic process.
Libya had it first democratic elections taking place on July 7 after thousands of Libyan students were killed during the revolution while the courses were stopped during several months.
In order to boost the recovery of Libyan higher education system, Dr Fathi Ali, Director of Benghazi Research Centre, Professor Abdulfattah Abuhbail, Professor at the Faculty of Economics, and Dr Maree Agela, Director of the International Cooperation Department at the university of Benghazi asked the ATA NGO from Amsterdam to provide a two-week Summer post-graduate education program for 120 selected Libyans business students.
I participated to this success story by teaching a course on international marketing at the Benghazi International Summer University BISU 2012 from June 24, just after attending the IUM graduation exercises, to July 6, day before the elections. Other visiting professors were coming from Denmark, the Netherlands and Bosnia; all of us have taught “pro bono” by using modern Western business education techniques and with a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, each of us being teamed with a local bilingual co-professor of economics or business.
Benghazi University campus, practically empty at the time of prayer.
The visiting professors were teaching in English but translation in Arabic was necessary both ways, since English could not be taught at the time of Kadhafi’s regime. The task was not easy for interpreters who did not have the technical knowledge about the jargon or the acronyms frequently used in the business world. As an example, it took about twenty minutes of discussion between the professional interpreter and my English speaking Libyan co-professor to translate the single word “entrepreneurship” in Arabic. And what about translating the 4 Ps, Kotler’s CCDVTP, the 5 Ms of advertising, etc.? Courses were taught from 5 pm, after “Asr” mid-afternoon prayer, to 8 pm, just before “Maghrib” evening payer, from Saturday to Thursday, Friday being the holly day for Islam.
The certificates of attendance were delivered in a formal ceremony which showed a great enthusiasm and very high degree of satisfaction from the participants.
The University of Benghazi, formerly known under the name of Garyunis has about 50,000 students, studying without Air Conditioning when the day temperature is around 35 degrees Celsius. We were fortunate enough to teach is the Research Center where Air Conditioning was working.
In Benghazi itself, partly destroyed by 2011 shootings, a new museum for the victims of the Martyrdom was just inaugurated when we were there, while militia were controlling the town with Kalashnikov’s. Two anecdotes about economic details in Libya: 80% of the food used in the country is imported but the liter of gasoline sells for 10 cents of a Euro! No problem to “fill her up”…
After having lectured in other post-war places in the Balkan such as Prishtina, Mitrovica or Tetovo, this was quite an exciting experience and to measure how lucky we are in the peaceful Principality with comfortable class-rooms, working Air Conditioning, and English as a common denominator language.
Voluntary help through NGOs or post-war organizations is a small contribution to solidify the links between Northern and Southern countries and develop the image of the International University of Monaco on the education arena.
Written by Prof. Francis Ille