Restarting the education system will be problematic in Mosul, as many of its finest assets have been destroyed.
As fierce fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State (ISIS) militants continues in west Mosul, some schools in the east of the city have just started to re-open. Most have been closed for three years since ISIS overran the region.
The Mosul University remains closed as it has been since 2014.
Workers are building a makeshift wall around the University, but the damage has already been done. This is the site of what the UN has called “one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history.”
The university used to have one of the greatest libraries in the Middle East. It had a collection of many ancient texts evidencing the birth of civilization in this region, including many records of the history of Islam.
It was burnt by ISIS fighters as they retreated.
One cannot imagine the destruction until stepping inside.
Mohammed, a former law student at the university, stayed in Mosul during the occupation, but had to keep his mouth shut when he saw the damage done to his university.
“I have many souvenirs here in the University of Mosul and many memories, so when I see that, I will be so sad,” he said.
But people in charge of the local education have no time for sadness here, as they say education is vital to getting the city back.
“Education is very important in Mosul. A wise British man once said, ‘tell me the state of education and the law and I will tell you the state of Britain.’ And for us, the most important thing is education. Building the education system means building up civil society,” said Raed Ismael Ali, an official of the Ninevah Education Board.
Just outside the school, a group of boys played at war, they have first-hand experience.
Getting them back to school will be one of the first ways to help them forget.