Education under the weight of armed conflict
Conflict in Iraq strongly affects children and their education. Millions of internally displaced children in Iraq have lost the possibility of going to school and falling behind in their studies has become everyday reality. Despite ongoing war and displacement, the Terre des hommes’ (Tdh) teams help displaced children to reintegrate into the formal school system and to have a better future.
Samar, a 15-year-old girl fled from Baiji and now goes to Al-Zuhoor Secondary IDP School in Tikrit, which is supported by Tdh. She fell behind in her studies and struggled to catch up. “I missed one school year because we were forced to leave our home. It was not easy for me but I am happy to be back at school,” says Samar.
The vast majority of internally displaced children in Iraq have not been so lucky. “There are millions of children in Iraq missing out on formal education. Some of them did not have access to school for two years or more under ISIS,” says Gatienne Jobit, Tdh Child Protection and Education Manager in Tikrit.
There are different reasons for that. “Schools in host communities are not usually able to absorb such a big influx of children, infrastructure is missing and a great number of families tend to send their children to work rather than to school as they can’t pay for stationery or school uniform,” explains Gatienne.
Tdh makes every effort to get children back to school. In order to increase the capacity of schools, Tdh provides them with extra furniture and equipment. “Last month we distributed copy machines, desks, whiteboards, and boxes of paper to seven schools in Tikrit. Children received backpacks, exercise books and stationery,” says Gatienne.
When there is no school available for them, Tdh sets up temporary learning spaces. “We have four temporary learning spaces providing non-formal education in Iraq. It is a safe environment where children go every day and learn according to the official Iraqi curriculum. We can have several shifts a day,” adds Gatienne.
Tdh currently operates four temporary learning spaces and supports 15 schools in Salah Al Din Governorate, serving more than 6,000 children.
Although large areas in Iraq have already been retaken from ISIS, the fighting caused widespread destruction of basic social and civilian infrastructure. The persisting fragile balance between communities, the security situation, destroyed houses and infrastructure still do not allow many families and their children to return and re-establish their normal lives. “We must ensure that displaced children are not left behind and that they have prospects for a better future,” concludes Gatienne.
Photo credit: ©Tdh