HAWIJAH, Iraq, Oct. 16, 2008 - The first graduation of a pilot literacy program was held yesterday at the soccer stadium here in Iraq's Kirkuk province.
The program, which began June 15 as a pilot program for the National Literary Campaign, graduated nearly 500 students.
The four-month course covered basic reading, writing and math skills for employment marketability, officials said. Students attended classes four hours a day, five days a week, for completion of the National Literary Campaign's requirements.
"I have worked closely with the local government leaders and watched them develop this program, through the execution of the program, and now with the graduation of these students," said Army 1st Lt. Steven Johnson, program coordinator, to the stadium full of graduating students.
"For the past four months the coalition forces have sat back and watched your local leadership guide you to a prosperous future, teaching you how to read and write to help better yourselves for what lies ahead," Johnson continued.
The program was established and classes were held in the Hawijah districts and then in the Zab and Riyadh subdistricts. The students enrolled in the program are members of the "Sons of Iraq" citizen security program who may have an interest in employment with the Iraqi security forces, or previously could not join those organizations due to limited education.
"The marvelous outcome in this first phase of students was the result of hard work and the blessed efforts of our teachers serving and developing this project," said Khalaf Hamid Abdullah, the district's director general of education.
Army Lt. Col. Christopher Vanek, commander of 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, congratulated all the students. "This was a pilot program resulting in a resounding success," he said.
(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)