Iraq has begun a project to construct 826 new schools to replace mud and dilapidated structures throughout the country, the Ministry of Education announced Tuesday (January 24th).
The project will replace 410 mud-brick and 416 dilapidated schools with new buildings using a ready-made concrete construction method, according to the director of media at the Ministry of Education, Waleed Hussein.
He said students attending schools slated to be demolished will be temporarily reassigned to other schools, and the ministry will provide buses to shuttle the students back and forth every day.
Hussein said the design and construction work has been awarded to the Ministry of Industry and Minerals and the Ministry of Housing and Reconstruction.
"We need more schools to eliminate congestions in the classroom," said Dr. Falah al-Qaisi, chairman of the committee on education and higher learning in the Baghdad Provincial Council.
Al-Qaisi told Mawtani that in addition to the new Ministry of Education projects, the Baghdad Provincial Council is working on building schools in the centre and vicinities of Baghdad in collaboration with ministries that have empty plots of land near highly populated areas that suffer from a shortage of school buildings.
According to the latest report issued by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), the education sector in Iraq has been severely weakened during the past two decades. This was attributed to several factors, one of which is the lack of educational facilities.
Education supervisor Ali al-Saedy of the Diyala department of education said, "The educational sector in Iraq suffered considerable negligence due to wrong policies the former regime embraced by focusing on the military establishment while neglecting the educational and learning sector, in addition to the subsequent terrorist operations that swept the schools and the teachers."
"I believe the time has come to upgrade the process of education and learning after the achievement of security," he said.
Abdul Adheem Yusuf, director of the education programme at the Sabreen civil society organisation, said his organisation has consistently sought to hold meetings and seminars with officials in the Iraqi government to work on developing the state of education in the country.
Through these meetings, they were able to "publicise the problems facing the educational sector, especially the huge shortage in schools," he told Mawtani.
"However, here we are today taking important steps on the road to success through the unification of efforts," he said.