Iraq News

Hundreds flock back to school in Ninawa's liberated areas

By Alaa Hussain in Baghdad

This primary school for boys in al-Qayyarah reopened its doors this year following the expulsion of the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Education]

This primary school for boys in al-Qayyarah reopened its doors this year following the expulsion of the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Education]

With the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) ousted from many areas in and around Mosul, students are flocking by the hundreds back to school in Ninawa province.

Parents have refrained from sending their children to school over the past two years after ISIL turned them into hotbeds for nurturing extremist and terrorist ideas .

As soon as Iraqi forces recaptured cities and towns around Mosul, the Iraqi Ministry of Education rushed to reopen hundreds of schools and equip them with furniture, books and stationary.

Students and teaching staff alike turned out in huge numbers, officials said, adding that there is no shortage of teachers in the newly liberated areas.

"The ministry has so far opened 146 schools in the areas of al-Qayyarah south-east of Mosul and Hatra to the south of the city," ministry spokesman Ibrahim Subti told Diyaruna.

The ministry is also working to reopen 63 primary schools and 12 secondary schools in Nimrud, al-Salam, al-Yanba and Sayed Mohammed, which are expected to receive about 8,200 male and female students of all grades, he said.

Remedial schools have also been opened in the al-Khazir and Zaylakan displacement camps for primary and middle school students, which have so far received 170 students, he said.

In Makhmour, south of Mosul, "the ministry has opened one of its largest schools, which accommodates 640 students in the boys section and 410 in the girls section, while its secondary school grades include 120 students of both genders", Subti said.

The Ninawa directorate general of education is also working hard to restore schools in Gogjali and al-Samah and allow students to resume their education as soon as possible, he said.

Solutions for non-liberated areas

With regard to areas that are yet to be liberated, new mechanisms are being developed to facilitate the resumption of classes after their liberation, said Iraqi MP Sajida al-Afandi, who serves on the education committee.

"The ministry will later organise direct examinations and give crash courses to make up for lost time and prevent students in those areas from missing out on the current school year," she told Diyaruna.

Dozens of schools that have been damaged as a result of being used as military positions by ISIL will be rebuilt as part of the programme of reconstruction of areas liberated from ISIL, she said, which is financed by an internationally supported special fund.

"The parliamentary finance committee wanted to allocate money from the Iraqi federal budget to rebuild affected schools, but the austerity and financial deficit the country is suffering from have prevented that," she added.

Rebuilding Christian schools

Acting on orders from the Ministry of Education, the departments of the Ninawa directorate general of education, including the department of Syriac studies and the al-Hamdaniya and Tel Keppe educational departments, will be conducting a survey of affected schools in liberated areas in the Ninawa Plains, said Imad Salim, Syriac studies director at the Ministry of Education.

Ninawa Plains, located to the north-east of Mosul, is home to a large population of Assyrian Christians.

"The ministry now plays an important role in promoting subjects that highlight the values of tolerance, co-existence and respect for religions, and including them in the curricula," Salim told Diyaruna.

He also stressed the importance of including Christian religious education in primary school curricula, in an effort to promote co-existence.

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One hand is carrying a gun and the other is building. The leadership is supplying the fronts with men, ammunition and weapons, and hasn't forgotten about pens, paper, school, livelihoods, medicines and means of warmth. The bad luck of ISIL has made it invade such a country and people!