Teach The Rich: Basra's Private School Business Booming, But So Are Students' Fees
In Iraq the public education system is facing huge challenges. Often two or three schools will share one building for all their classes and pupils are taught in shifts. In the southern Iraqi province of Basra, one building has become notorious because seven schools share the rooms.
Often classes consist of about 60 pupils at a time. And if the classrooms are not crowded, then they may well be old and unsafe and lack facilities like bathrooms or air conditioning.
There are around 1,800 public schools in Basra and they occupy around 1,000 buildings in the province, Maki Mohsen Mahous, the director of Basra's provincial Department of Education told NIQASH.
Many of the buildings are actually unsuitable for teaching and, he says, “we still need to build another 700 schools to solve the problem of overcrowded classrooms”.
There are also growing doubts that the provincial government will be able to do this because of the country's financial crisis, which has seen provincial budgets diminished.
These are just some of the reasons that parents like Basra father, Salman Ahmad, are choosing to send their children to private schools. His three children now get transportation to school, the classrooms have modern equipment and they are heated and air conditioned, Ahmad says.
“All this is great,” he says. “The only problem I foresee is that the school could raise its fees at any time, without any restrictions.” Like many other parents, Ahmad is concerned that prices will rise beyond his family's means and his children's education will be interrupted.