Iraqi Children Facing Lack of Education

In Children and Youth, Education, Iraq War on September 16, 2006 at 6:15 pm

The Reuters Foundation Alertnet posted a report this week on a side of the War in Iraq that isn’t as commonly revealed as death or injury, and that is its effect on the education of Iraqi children.

Some snippets from the article:

BAGHDAD, 14 September (IRIN) – The UK-based charity organisation Save the Children has launched a global report exposing the devastating consequences of armed conflict on education in 30 countries. As the only country in the Middle East assessed, Iraq is singled out as one of the most recent problem areas.

Entitled ‘Rewrite the Future: Education for children in conflict-affected countries’, the report says that 43 million primary-age children worldwide are unable to go to school because of armed conflicts in their respective countries…

The Save the Children report says 818,000 children in Iraq, 22.2 percent of the total number of students in the country, are unable to go to school.

The Iraq government says that armed conflict is one of its most serious concerns. Ever since the US-led occupation of Iraq began in 2003, the country’s security situation has continually deteriorated…

Insurgency, sectarian attacks and criminal violence are killing hundreds of Iraqi civilians every day. As a combination of this deteriorating situation and increasing poverty, more and more children are being taken out of schools by parents.

“We have observed that in the past three years, more chairs have become empty in our country’s classrooms. This problem goes from primary education to universities,” said Ahmed Yacoub, Ministry of Education official researcher.

“Attacks and kidnaps in schools have made parents afraid that the next victims would be their children. So they prefer to let them not have a proper education until the situation improves. Others require their children to start working early because poverty has risen and their [financial] help becomes more important,” Yacoub added

Education Week magazine ran a related report this week entitled “U.S. Withdraws from Education reform in Iraq,” giving specific details of U.S. funded education work being cut off without many of the original goals being completed.  Some of the agencies that have been involved often cite security issues as a major reason.  Unfortuneately, Education Week’s website requires a subscription to access the online conent.  If you have one, check it out @ www.edweek.org

Here is a small portion of the article, just to get the basic point across:

When the new school year opens in Iraq in October, Iraqis will not be receiving any financial or technical help from the U.S. government to improve what goes on in the classroom, for the first time since Saddam Hussein’s regime was ousted by America-led coaltion forces.

The U.S. Agency for International Development ended its support of the Iraqi education sector in June, according to USAID officials and a July report to Congress.  No longer will the federal government sponsor  workshops for teachers on child-centered teacching methods, refurbish schools through small grants to communities, distribute school supplies, or pay for the printing of textbooks – activities that the United States has subsidized since Spring 2003.

And the government is getting out of school reform before it accomplishes many of the goals it set out to acheive.

I’m purely speculating, but could it be that the U.S government is gearing up to make an offer of privatized education in Iraq?  If that were to happen, Iraq truly could have a system set up that is modelled after the U.S. system, where people often pay huge sums of money for education, while scholarships and grants are on the decline. For now, it seems both systems have different means to the same end anyway (that end being decrease in education).

  1. Reminds me of the 2003 Naomi Klein article… It reads in part…

    “The process of getting all this infrastructure to work is usually called “reconstruction.” But American plans for Iraq’s future economy go well beyond that. Rather, the country is being treated as a blank slate on which the most ideological Washington neoliberals can design their dream economy: fully privatized, foreign-owned and open for business…

    Most of these contracts are for about a year, but some have options that extend up to four. How long before they meld into long-term contracts for privatized water services, transit systems, roads, schools and phones? When does reconstruction turn into privatization in disguise?


    A people starved and sickened by sanctions, then pulverized by war, is going to emerge from this trauma to find that their country has been sold out from under them. They will also discover that their newfound “freedom” — for which so many of their loved ones perished — comes pre-shackled with irreversible economic decisions that were made in boardrooms while the bombs were still falling.
    They will then be told to vote for their new leaders, and welcomed to the wonderful world of democracy.”

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