Kindergartens across Anbar have been welcoming children again following the expulsion of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), Iraqi officials tell Diyaruna, describing these institutions as the gateway to education.
"After being liberated from the terrorist gangs , Anbar took it upon itself to prioritise the rehabilitation of school buildings and public and private kindergartens," said Anbar provincial council's education committee chair Ibtissam Mohammed.
"Hundreds of kindergartens have opened their doors and welcomed children so they can prepare them for primary school," she told Diyaruna.
These institutions provide children between the ages of 3 and 6 with simple lessons that help strengthen their language skills and teach them basic scientific and literary concepts, she said.
Kindergartens are critical for children at an early age who quickly absorb information using simple methods of reading and writing, said Jinan Jassim al-Dulaimi, headmistress of al-Ajyal Kindergarten in Ramadi.
They give children space to draw, play, sing and express themselves, she told Diyaruna.
"Several kindergartens in Anbar, including in Ramadi, offer special needs education, in addition to providing nutritious and balanced meals to support children’s growth," al-Dulaimi said.
The gateway to education
"Supervisory committees at the Ministry of Education directorates throughout Anbar continue to work towards ensuring continued instruction at kindergarten," said Khalil Salih al-Assafi, chairman of the supervisory committee of kindergartens at the Anbar Directorate for Education.
Kindergarten is the gateway to education, he told Diyaruna.
Kindergartens throughout the province have been provided with buses to transport children from their homes to their schools, he said, adding that supervisory staff accompany them on the bus.
There also has been a series of field trips for children attending kindergarten, he said, to introduce them to other cities in the province as well as local historical and touristic sites.
"I have two children at al-Rahma Kindergarten in Fallujah and they are happy when they come home every day," said Fallujah resident Rifaat Jubair al-Anni.
"Over the past couple of years, my children were withdrawn and scared of speaking with distant relatives and even our neighbours," he told Diyaruna.
Now, he said, they are excited to go to kindergarten in the morning, which has become their second home, and they talk with their friends about what they learned from their teachers.
They have learned new things and have become better learners, he said, particularly when it comes to writing and pronouncing the alphabet.
"This will produce outstanding students as they enter primary school," he said.
"Children were subjected to terrorist threats and suffered under cruel conditions, particularly in Anbar," al-Anni added. "Kindergartens are the way to foster young talent and build a healthy generation that can be innovative and successful."