School in Libya opts for the Leaving Cert

Forty-five students at the International School in Tripoli, Libya, will sit the Leaving Certificate this June. Under the desert sun, they will apply themselves to the very same papers as the 60,000 or so youngsters who will take the exams here in Ireland.

The ISM international school was founded in 1958 for expatriate pupils whose parents work in the oil business, medical field and the diplomatic community. When the school expanded to include older students in 1995, school officials opted for the Irish Leaving Certificate as the best final examination for their multi-ethnic student population.

“We have students from 52 countries studying at our school,” said Donna McPhee, principal of the International School.

“The Irish Leaving Certificate programme offered us the kind of academic standard and subject spread that we were looking for. As a Canadian myself, I consider the Irish secondary education curriculum to be far superior to the Canadian, US or UK models.”

McPhee contends that the Irish exam system maintains rigorous academic standards and serves stronger students well.

Tripoli is the only location outside the Irish state where the Leaving Cert is held on an annual basis, and the school is charged with complying with the same rules and regulations as Irish schools, with some compromises. For example, students are allowed to take Arabic instead of Irish.

The 45 candidates in Tripoli will take their papers at exactly the same time as their Irish counterparts and completed exam scripts will be returned to the State Examinations Commission in Athlone for marking.

Ms McPhee says parents and students are happy with the programme. “We get no complaints and very few requests for papers to be rechecked.” (The Irish Times)

ISM was formerly known as Oil Companies School (k-9) back in the 80’s. After the American bombing, the school was renamed as CUSAM & have recently renamed the school to ISM. The syllabus used were based on the American curriculum. While I was there, I was surprised when I flip through my Social Studies text book and see pages covered with black inks. We are not to read anything about Zionism, Judaism & Jews. But I remember learning about the greek myths, Roman empire, Mesopotamia etc. My time there have actually changed me & moulded me into the person I am today.


25 Replies to “School in Libya opts for the Leaving Cert”

  1. I studied at ISM for 4 months at grade 10, and i loved every part of it, the people, staff, the atmosphere, everything was perfect. As a new student i felt welcomed by everyone! It was a shame to have to leave, but i learned a lot just in those 4 months! It is hard to change from the British education system to the ILC but was definatley worth it. I am still in contact with the ex pupil, who graduated last year, and i hear the same thing from each of them! they all miss and love ISM and would not change anything about their ecperiences there! I remember my first day felt like i had been there years! It is such a friendly atmosphere, and although Libya is my home country, i was still new to the area, but it didn’t seem that way! i am so thankful to everyone there! all the staff and pupils made my time at ISM worth everyday. i would definatley reccommend it to anyone, libya is such a beautiful place, and i had the experience of a life time when i was there! Thanks to everyone!

  2. i am geologist engnner and i want to complet my study so i would like to know some information like subjects that i am going to study

  3. Anonymous,
    It was different then, back in the 80’s. ISM or OCS as it was originally known to many followed the American education system. Teachers were either American or Canadian. Mostly canadians by the mid 80’s. I had a great time there, it was different from back home.

  4. my time in libya was really great.
    my memories of the place shall always be with me. i did the irish leaving cert and found it has a pretty good curriculum.
    I remember when it was first introduced by Mr. Coffey and his wife.they were really helpful (esp. Mrs.Coffey in french cuz i was useless) before 1996/1997 arabic was not an option but it was introduced to accommodate us in libya with the great efforts of mr. Coffey

  5. Anonymous (00:09:40),
    I’d have to agree with you. I bet you’d always cherish the great memories you have of that school. I left in 88, so i don’t think I’ve met or seen Mr & Mrs Coffey. Anyway, thanks for dropping by.

  6. Great website. But I do not think it fair to publish anonymous rubbish like the letter of 5 March 2007. As former Principal who introduced the ILC, I am very proud of the school, its staff and its students.

    Of course, some teachers will be better than others. But to mention “perverted” teachers is a scandal. No such teacher would be tolerated in ISM to my knowledge.

    But let the the facts speak for themselves. The consistent high marks of the students in the Irish Leaving Cert – an independent exam where “wasta” counts for nothing – would be the envy of many prestigious schools in UK and in Ireland.

  7. Mr Coffey,
    Thank you for visiting my blog and also for pointing out to me that fact, regarding the post which I have now deleted. I am sure you as well as your staffs, the present and former staffs of OCS, CUSAM and / or ISM as well as the students enjoyed going to that school.

  8. I’ve studied in ISM from Pre-K to Grade 10 (94-2006) It was a great studying in ISM. I just came across Mr. Coffey’s comment… I remember him being the principal when I was in school:)
    Well I left school a year ago and now I am studying in Malta and will be sitting my IB exams in May.

  9. I have an english cousin who lived his entire life in the uk and they’re coming bsck to libya and he’s very afraid of this step…he doesnt believe that he’ll get the proper education in libya,,,what can I do to help him understand that its ok,and that the past 15 years of his life werent a waste like he says?
    please anyone with any idea,,come forward..thanks

  10. pls i want to study koran and i will like to learn more about it in libya pls can you kindly send the koranic school address to so that i can apply for admission
    thanks looking forward to hear from you

  11. Mr. Coffey used to be my principal there way back in 97 and 99 I took the Leaving Certificate as well and currently working as a global strategist for Global Investment Bank in Europe. I would like to know where most of my colleagues are like Rohit Kapil. I know he is in the US but like Marina and others. Anyway good luck to ISM.

  12. I’m studying in ISM at the moment and gotta say that everything there is good and the teachers are great.i’ll be sitting my ILC exams next year but i’m not afraid or anything coz our teachers are really qualified and i’m quiet sure that i’m gonna do good if god wills!

  13. Mike, I have got some news for Rohit Kapil. I have just learned that he pased away in Chicago. Was one of my closest friends. RIP Rohit.

  14. hello..i just wanted to know if ISM international school had an email address..if they do have one could some1 send it to me…thank you!!

  15. I am sitting the following exams in June 2010 :
    Biology advanced, English, Maths & Physics ordinary
    Is there a website for the curriculum required?

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