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Supporting children's education in Iraq
We’re training teachers in southern Iraq and giving girls
the vocational skills that can build them a better future.
The TV cameras may have left Iraq when the troops did, but the country is still in an economic and social mess. We’re working in the south of the country – in an area where many people had to flee their homes after the war and sectarian violence that followed it.
Unemployment remains extremely high, and school enrolment rates are dropping because boys are often sent to the streets to work. Girls are kept at home until they can be married (at 13 or 14). There’s an acute shortage of teachers, and many schools were damaged in the war or have fallen into disrepair. In the areas in which we are working nearly 4 in 10 children under the age of 15 are not attending school.
Iraq is probably the most dangerous and insecure country War Child is working in. Kidnappings, car bombs and assassinations are still part of daily life and many groups there are suspicious of, and hostile to, people seen to be representing the ‘West’. That’s why we rely heavily on our local staff and building strong links with the communities we’re working with.
What we're doing
The conflict and violence in Iraq has hit the education sector hard. Teachers have very little motivation as their salaries are not sufficient to provide for their families, and teaching resources are not available. As a result, even those children who are able to attend school are not receiving a high standard of education.
To help overcome this problem, War Child trains teachers in different aspects of education. This includes training in subject knowledge, teaching methodologies and child protection. Teachers are then better equipped with the knowledge and techniques that make sure kids get the best possible education.
Teaching Girls and Young Women
Many girls in Iraq don’t get a chance to go to school. When they reach their teens they’ve not been given an opportunity to learn to read and write, and have no vocational skills to take to the workplace. They are often forced into child marriages and have no choice but to live with their husbands and spend their days looking after the home.
These girls are very vulnerable. War Child runs classes to help them to gain skills and independence. From age 12, girls in our programmes are taught literacy, numeracy and life skills. After four months girls show incredible improvements, and if possible they are integrated into the formal schools we support. For those girls who start with our programmes later (aged 16+), we ensure that alongside literacy and numeracy classes they are given the opportunity to learn a vocational skill. Often this is through sewing classes, where girls are taught by a local seamstress, and on completion of the course are provided with a starter kit so they can use their skills to earn a small living for their families.
When communities understand the importance of educating girls, and the economic value they can bring to the family, girls’ education is seen far more positively. The effects of this can bring positive impacts for Iraqi girls and their families both now and for generations to come.
It costs just £12 to pay for the tools a father needs to set himself up as a local tradesmen. We identified 120 fathers of the most vulnerable and poorest children and taught them how to repair the local schools.
We helped 12 year old Vania out of a brick-making factory and into a classroom to fulfil her dream of getting an education.