ERBIL, Kurdistan Region–The United Nations education and cultural agency (UNESCO) says that conflicts in Iraq have left hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children and youth without access to quality education, and the ongoing conflict in Mosul has made it even worse.
“The on-going Mosul crisis is further accelerating this trend,” the UN agency said in a statement on Monday.
It said that it has signed an agreement with the European Union to support the primary and secondary education for 100,000 students who are left out of education in conflict-hit areas, such as Mosul.
The Iraqi government launched an offensive to retake Mosul, still largely under the control of the Islamic State, almost three months ago which has led to the displacement of about 100,000 people from Mosul, and the ISIS-held town of Hawija, south of Kirkuk, the UN and Iraqi officials say.
An the estimated 3.5 million Iraqi children are missing out on their education, the UN children’s agency (UNICEF) announced last October which has since launched a Back to School campaign to reach out to them in partnership with the Iraqi Ministry of Education.
This summer, Rudaw met 9-year old Shima who, along with her family, had escaped Islamic State-held territory southeast of Mosul and settled in Debaga camp, south of Erbil.
Her greatest fear is not being able to continue her education. “I couldn’t study because Daesh was taking money from us,” she cried, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“I don’t know if I can study in third grade or not. I finished first and second grade but I wasn’t able to finish third grade because they were asking for money.”
Dr. Dylan O’Driscoll, a research fellow with the Erbil-based Middle East Research Institute (MERI) warned in a recent report on planning for the liberation of Mosul that education will be a significant challenge for those who have lived under ISIS rule for more than two years.
“A new education system must be established in Nineveh to deal with the fact that many of the youth have been without a proper education for over two years. However, this system needs to run in parallel with the normal education system in order to also accommodate those just starting their education.”