Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, June 26, 2006

After a Long Decline, Iraqi Schools Begin to Fill

As reported in The New York Times by Sabrina Tavernise, “enrollment in Iraqi schools has risen every year since the American invasion, reversing more than a decade of declines and offering evidence of increased prosperity for some Iraqis.” Tavernise reports that, according to figures from the Ministry of Education, “the number of children enrolled in schools nationwide rose by 7.4 percent from 2002-2005, and in middle schools and high schools by 27 percent in that time.”

The reasons behind such a phenomenon are not always driven by good news. For example, Tavernise says, “among the highest increases in secondary and high school enrollment were in provinces that have received families who are fleeing the violence of Baghdad and its dangerous outskirts.” However, an “increase in population of about 8 percent to 26 million from 2002-2005 in Iraq is also a cause,” as is economics, she reports. “Kids don’t have to work to help their parents anymore,” says Abdul Zahra al-Yasiri, a school teacher in Karbala in southern Iraq.

“High school enrollment increased more for girls than for boys, while boys made bigger gains in primary schools,” Tavernise reports. UNICEF reports that in 2004, “about 50 percent of all school-age Iraqi boys and 35 percent of school-age girls were enrolled.”

Parents are taking on a stronger role to insist that their children receive an education. A recent survey conducted at a school in a poor area of Mosul showed that “about a quarter of the parents of first graders could not read or write.” As a result, “those families are trying harder to keep their children in school, in part because civil service jobs that require diplomas are paying higher salaries.” Some parents are even going back to school themselves. One such 35 year-old woman declares, “I want progress in Iraq.”

To read this article in full click here.


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