The Iraqi Ministry of Education announced on Tuesday (March 29th) the founding of 32 new institutes for preparing male and female teachers throughout Iraq.
The institutes are part of the ministry's plan to meet the needs of districts and sub-districts that are far from cities and provinces. The ministry aims to open new schools in villages, rural areas and the desert region, to eliminate illiteracy and the obstacles that prevent children from learning.
"The aim of opening new male and female teachers' institutes is to back up the ministry's plans to eliminate mud schools, build new school buildings and expand the small buildings of other schools, as well as expanding and increasing school curricula and modifying previous ones," said Waleed Hussein, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education.
"To achieve that, it is required to graduate additional teachers from the new institutes, which should be sufficient, based on a previous study made by the ministry," he said.
Hussein told Mawtani that the locations for the new institutes were chosen based on each province's need for training institutes, shortage of teaching staff, current number of schools and shortage of school buildings.
The new institutes are spread across the provinces of Ninawa, Muthana, Karbala, Wasit, Najaf, Dhi Qar, Basra, Diwaniyah, Maysan, Babel, Diyala, Kirkuk, Baghdad and Anbar.
The Ministry of Education has instructed the directorates of education in these provinces to provide suitable buildings and nominate teachers with at least three years' experience, preferably with higher degrees, to teach at the institutes.
Teacher training at the new institutes will start during the 2011-2012 school year, and will include major subjects such as English, Arabic, Islamic education, social education, mathematics, history, geography, physical education and art.
Students applying for enrollment at these institutes must have a middle school certificate with an average grade of no less than 70%. The program will last for three years, after which students will graduate with a diploma and be assigned exclusively to government elementary schools and kindergartens.
"The current institutes are overcrowded with a large number of students," said Mohammed al-Khafaji, an adviser to the minister of education on preparation and qualification. "This project will be a beginning for opening new schools to absorb students and those who have not been enrolled in rural areas and remote villages, which are located more than 100 kilometers away from city centers."
Ismael Waleed al-Hitti, educational supervisor at the Karkh education office, told Mawtani, "These new institutes will help supply the educational sector in Iraq with 6,000 male and female teachers a year."
He said this will allow the government to open new schools and reduce the shortage of school buildings in Iraq, which is estimated at more than 6,500. There are now 2,400 school buildings under construction in various parts of the country.
Al-Hitti also said education officials aim to decrease the number of students in each classroom from 40 per teacher, to between 15 and 20, which will improve students' performance.
Alaa Mohammed, an English teacher in Baghdad, said the opening of new teacher institutes is an "important step for wiping out illiteracy in Iraq and in reducing the load and pressure on current teachers".
"Graduating new teachers is no different than training new soldiers in the armed forces, as both play an important role in the road to building the new Iraq, for which we all dream," he said.