The Iraqi Ministry of Education announced last week the start of a fast-paced, national plan to build hundreds of schools in Baghdad and other provinces.
The World Bank provided $100 million to build elementary, middle and high schools.
Jassem Abbas, an engineer in charge of school construction at the Ministry of Education, said the ministry intends to build 987 schools for boys and girls. Each school will include at least 18 classrooms, three science labs, a conference hall, a theater, a sports hall, green areas, a football field and a basketball court.
"We shall pave the roads leading to these schools, as well as provide internet service, electricity and drinking water supplies," he told Mawtani. "We will also supply wooden school chairs, magnetic blackboards and podiums for the teachers."
Abbas said the ministry hopes to complete construction of the schools within 14 months so students can begin attending classes in them at the start of the next school year.
Ministry of Education spokesperson Waleed Hussein said the ministry is looking to build even more schools and has started asking provincial councils for money from the regional development plan for construction.
Hussein said improved security has prompted more students to come to school and many dropouts to return, creating overcrowding in schools and forcing some buildings to hold two school sessions, one with morning classes and another with classes in the afternoon.
"This is what we are trying to end by building new, modern schools in every area," he said. "The objective of the education ministry is to spread the culture of Iraq to all, to refrain from sectarianism, religious and ethnic extremism, and to promote contemporary ideas. We shall focus on this objective in a big way.''
The Ministry of Education has also been working to equip schools with necessary supplies. Tens of thousands of school chairs have been manufactured and the ministry has provided examination booklets and texts promoting peaceful coexistence and the culture of non-violence.
Parliament member Waleed al-Mohammadi told Mawtani that the ministry will focus on building schools in rural areas and cities hit hard by terrorism.
''Those who were deprived of education by the terrorist groups will have the chance to go back to schools in a better way than in the past," he said.
Iraqi citizens praised the project to build new schools.
"With work and knowledge we shall build the new Iraq," said Haifa Salih of Baghdad. "The future belongs to education and learning, so let us give the coming generations the chance to live in a progressive, stable Iraq.''
Khalaf al-Dulaimi, a resident of Habaniya, said, "Building new schools will send a message to the Iraqi people that the future is here and we should fill it with knowledge and scholarship.''