UNESCO officials concluded a series of meetings held with director generals in Ministries of Education in the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan regional government, as well as representatives from local NGOs, to discuss ways to enhance cooperation and accelerate the implementation of UNESCO programmes targeting 10,000 out-of-school children and youth in Iraq.
“UNESCO is committed to extend its technical and financial support to related Ministries to allow 10,000 IDPs children and youth re-enroll in academic institutions”, stated Zulfiqar Ali, Education Project manager in UNESCO Office for Iraq. “Providing a learning opportunity for all children and youth, and making sure that their education is not interrupted by displacement is a main priority for UNESCO in this stage, and a pillar for its projects in Iraq”, he added. UNESCO’ expert’s statement came following his three days’ meetings with the Iraqi officials from 5 to 7 September 2014 in the city of Erbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
UNESCO’s response is based on two main projects focusing on schools renovation, reconstruction, examination, organizing catch-up classes and providing psychosocial support. With the aim to guarantee IDPs’ children and youth right to quality education, UNESCO Office for Iraq is implementing the “Educate A Child Initiative (EACI) in Iraq” and “Providing access to quality education to adolescents and young adults in conflict affected areas in Iraq”, two pioneering initiatives funded respectively by the governments of Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These interventions will provide access to education for internally displaced out-of-school children and youth at primary and secondary level in camps, as well as in host communities in Iraq.
Dr. Yousif Othman, Director General of Educational Planning, at the Ministry of Education in the Kurdistan regional government praised UNESCO efforts, and stressed that “schools used as shelter by IDPs need to be evacuated, and UNESCO already committed to renovate and reconstruct secondary schools for IDPs children and youth allowing them to start schooling from new academic year”.