The Iraqi Ministry of Education launched a new project to construct 5,000 primary and secondary schools to ease school building shortages and provide appropriate classrooms, the ministry announced on Wednesday (September 28th).
Education officials said the ministry reached agreements with Korean, Turkish, Italian and local companies to construct the buildings on the basis of deferred payment plans.
"The new school structures will be ideal. The United Nations committee entrusted with following up on education, the Ministry of Planning, and the Iraqi Survey Board have approved the schools' designs," said Fayek Jalal al-Thehaiba, chairman of the committee for monitoring school buildings.
The project will cost $225 million and take two years to complete.
Al-Thehaiba told Mawtani that three designs have been chosen for the buildings. The first has 28 classrooms, the second has 22 classrooms and the third has 18 classrooms.
All the schools have modern laboratories for chemistry and physics, an English language audio laboratory, a cafeteria, fields for football and basketball, and a computer room.
"The new school buildings will provide classroom seats for a large number of students, and will end the double occupancy of school buildings and overcrowding in classrooms, which will positively affect students' performance in school," al-Thehaiba said.
Dr. Alaa Makki, chairman of the Iraqi parliament's education and higher learning committee, said the new buildings would improve the quality of education in Iraq.
"The project will help raise the standing of Iraq from an educational point view, to the third tier within the Arab region in terms of the number of schools, the number of students and the availability of free education," he told Mawtani.
In addition to improving education in Iraq, Makki said building schools would provide numerous jobs for the unemployed.
"These projects could provide thousands of opportunities for teaching, administrative and service staffs, and would also help bring back students who dropped out of school either because of the school being far away from their homes, or due to the deteriorated state of overcrowded schools," he said.
Makki told Mawtani that the parliament would follow up on the project during a discussion of long term plans for the overall development of teaching curricula to ensure it is comparable to the curricula of other countries.
Mohammad al-Marawi, educational supervisor at the directorate of technical education at the ministry, said the government has acted quickly to improve education.
"Only two years ago, we had schools complaining of a drop in the number of students in attendance because of deterioration in the security situation and students' absenteeism. Today, we are building 5,000 new school buildings."
"This is evidence of the extent of progress Iraq is making every day in the area of security," al-Marawi said. "We started to give students lectures on tolerance, compassion, the dangers of extremism and the meaning of life, which we consider more important than the school texts."