Erbil, 8 April 2015 – In another major step to improve access to quality education in Iraq and bring a sense of normalcy and stability to the lives of Iraqi IDPs, UNESCO and its partners celebrated today with students and teachers the opening of the newly constructed Dawodiyah Secondary School for internally displaced persons at Dawodiyah Camp in Dohouk, Kurdistan.
The opening of the new secondary school in Dawodiyah camp shortly follows the opening of the Baharka Secondary School and is a major milestone in UNESCO’s efforts to provide quality secondary education to children and adolescents of IDP communities and ensure equal opportunities to education for both girls and boys.
Speaking to the students on behalf of the UNESCO Office for Iraq Director, Axel Plathe, UNESCO Project Manager Ali Zulfiqar said, “regardless of the circumstances you are in, remember that education is your right, demand for it and take advantage of it.” Zulfiqar also thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generous financial support that enabled UNESCO to build two new secondary schools for IDPs in Iraq.
The opening ceremony was held in the presence of government and education officials from Erbil. Also attended by students, parents and teachers along with members of the international humanitarian community and civil society organizations, the event featured a school tour and several student activities including an interpretative dance routine and a drama sketch.
“We are thankful for UNESCO’s support in constructing the Dawodiyah Secondary School for IDPS and for helping the Ministry of Education of the Kurdistan Regional Government in conducting teacher training workshops and providing catch up classes as well as the necessary stationary for students to continue their education,” said Abed Yousef, Director General of Education in Dohouk during his speech at the opening ceremony.
The Mayor of Dawodiyah, Mushtaq Ismat Abid and Ms.Kalar, the Dawodiyah Camp Manager mentioned in their speeches that Dawodiyah camp did not previously have a secondary school. With 4017 people and 661 families currently residing in Dawodiyah camp, the opening of this secondary school will allow a large number of students to continue their education and restore a sense of normalcy in their lives.
With its 6 classrooms, 10 toilets, a play area as well as a common room for teachers and one for the head teacher, the Dawodiyah Secondary School will host up to 500 students and 20 teachers in two shifts.
For the following three months, students will attend catch-up classes and sit for exams at the end of June; teachers training workshops will also take place. UNESCO will hand over management of the school to the Kurdistan Regional Government in June 2015.
As Iraq currently contends with one of the largest number of IDPs in the world, UNESCO continues to focus its efforts on providing quality secondary education to adolescents and children of IDP communities within Iraq and Kurdistan. The opening of the school comes within the framework of the project ‘Providing access to quality education to adolescents and young adults in conflict-affected areas in Iraq’, funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.