Students in Anbar have been studying in adverse environments as many schools were destroyed and they had to all fit into limited space. After the liberation, families and volunteers worked together to renovate and establish many schools.
With the start of the new academic year, dozens of new schools have re-opened in in Iraq’s western Anbar Province. The province, which was invaded by ISIS in 2014, faced much infrastructural damage with over 70% of the schools destroyed. A large part of the destruction was due to ISIS using schools as bases to launch attacks on the Iraqi Security Forces.
However, since the defeat of the militant organisation, locals and volunteers have put in effort to rebuild the educational institutions throughout the province. “We have been striving to provide education across the province in the past few years,” says Sa’eed al-Natah, a school inspector. “We have worked to renovate and also establish many schools.”
Before these rehabilitation efforts, school buildings that were destroyed in the war were forced to merge with other schools to provide education for their students during the transition period. As a result, the same school building would offer a variety of schedules throughout the entire day to cater to the large number of students. Furthermore, this has led to a change in the curricula and the syllabi of the schools, and in turn, a decline in the quality of education. This change caused many parents to complain about late schedules, saying that their children lack energy when they go to school.
“There are schools that provide one, two or three shifts. It is known that doctors say that a child’s energy is at its highest from 8 am onwards,” said a citizen. “[Their energy levels] start decreasing around 10-12 pm. So if a child starts school at 2-3 pm, what remains of their energy and their ability to properly think and be physically active?”
The rehabilitation of dozens of schools throughout Anbar Province has permitted for overcrowding to be reduced. Locals are looking forward to the improvement of the curriculum with the restoration of the new schools during this academic year.