UNICEF Iraq Briefing Note Education, 30 September 2016

from UN Children's Fund
Published on 30 Sep 2016

Several weeks before of the start of the new school year, UNICEF and the Iraqi Ministry of Education launched a nationwide Back to School campaign in 10 governorates.

An estimated 1.4 million children were reached with public information messages, transport assistance, school supplies, and other services.

The campaign aims to get more children into classrooms, and to enable those already in formal education to stay there.

In 2016, UNICEF has helped to get more than 116,000 out of school children back into classrooms, to install pre-fab school structures benefitting 42,000 displaced children, and to distribute school supplies and learning materials to more than 280,000 children.

UNICEF has also trained more than 2,350 education staff, helped 383 schools improve their governance practices, mainstreamed life skills education in 439 schools, and helped to reopen schools in previously inaccessible areas like Anbar.

3.5 million school-aged Iraqi children are missing out on education, which means they are at increased risk of early marriage, child labour and recruitment into armed groups.

About 1 million school-aged children are internally displaced, and 70 per cent of them have lost an entire year of school.

Approximately 64,000 Syrian refugee children living in Iraq have had their education disrupted. We are particularly concerned for the children displaced in Anbar and along the Mosul corridor due to ongoing fighting. Over the past few weeks, thousands have fled their homes to camps and informal settlements. As the conflict intensifies, we are preparing to support hundreds of thousands more children, along with their families.

Across Anbar governorate, UNICEF and partners are mobilising communities with back to school campaigns; refurbishing and extending school structures; providing desks, textbooks and school bags; and helping children to catch up on lost school time, as well as to reintegrate into the education system.

There are 10 million school-aged children across the country – far too many of them have suffered displacement, violence, trauma, or some other form of abuse.

UNICEF’s activities in Iraq
UNICEF strives to enable Iraq’s children to access a good standard of education and to learn in safe and protected environments. Together with Save the Children and the Government of Iraq, UNICEF co-leads the coordination of the overall Education response.

UNICEF offers emergency assistance to displaced Iraqi and Syrian refugee children, and longer term support to strengthen education systems and services across Iraq.

We help to build, expand and rehabilitate schools, provide teaching and learning materials, train education personnel, offer alternative and accelerated learning opportunities, strengthen education systems, and support families to keep their children in school.

Education sector challenges
The Iraqi education sector suffers from structural challenges that have been exacerbated by conflict and large scale population displacements.

Children on the move often miss out on schooling and have difficulty accessing education where they have temporarily settled.

Children in communities hosting displaced people suffer from the declining quality of education in a system that is increasingly under pressure. More than 1.1 million children in host communities have been affected by the crisis.

Schools across the country are overcrowded and understaffed. Many operate two or three shifts, reducing the amount of time children have to learn. In classes that are running, there is a high pupil-to-teacher ratio. Teachers are in short supply – and many of them have been displaced.

Many schools are being used to house internally displaced persons which will likely delay the start of the school year for children living in those areas.

One in five schools in Iraq is out of use due to conflict. Since 2014, the UN has verified 135 attacks on education facilities and personnel.

For more information contact:
Farah Dakhlallah, UNICEF Iraq Office, +964 782 782 0238 fdakhlallah@unicef.org