Education leaders praise Iraq's Accelerated Learning programme

Students in a classroom at an Accelerated Learning school in Baghdad [Mahmoud al-Mulhim/Mawtani].

Students in a classroom at an Accelerated Learning school in Baghdad [Mahmoud al-Mulhim/Mawtani].

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Iraqi education specialists say the "Accelerated Learning" schools project is helping to save many Iraqi youths from the traps of illiteracy and ignorance, and is providing them with a chance to finish their education.

"We have seen great progress in this experiment because students were more accepting of it and sought to enrol in the programme voluntarily to catch up with their peers and resume the education they abandoned," said Tariq Ali, director of planning for the Ministry of Education.

Ali said Accelerated Learning covers three levels, each of which includes two stages of normal elementary education. A student can complete the elementary stage of education in three years instead of six.

"We merged the materials of every two stages into one level, and simplified it to accelerate the processing of students completing the elementary period, thus decreasing the gap between them and their peers who are in the secondary education stage so that they would be able to continue their education after that," he told Mawtani.

Accelerated Learning is part of a three-year program sponsored by the United Nations Children Organization (UNICEF) and the European Union in collaboration with the Iraqi government to improve the opportunities for obtaining a proper basic education in Iraq.

The project seeks to eliminate illiteracy among adolescent school drop-outs aged between 12 and 18 years old.

700,000 children not enrolling each year

According to UNICEF findings published in March 2011, the rate of enrolment in elementary schools, currently about 87%, is less than the 89% that the Iraqi national development objective aims to attain by 2015. This gap represents about 700,000 children of primary school age who do not enrol in elementary schools every year.

The UNICEF report also found that less than 50% of all children enrolled in elementary schools would continue on to middle and secondary schools during their lifetime as adolescents.

"Some of the reasons that led students to join Accelerated Learning schools are violence, forced displacement, death of a head of family, poverty or deprivation," said Nawal Ali, principal of Asmaei School for Accelerated Learning.

Ali told Mawtani the role of teachers at these schools is different from the role of teachers in traditional elementary schools.

"Our primary objective is to teach students reading and writing, which they lack, in any way possible and provide them with the chance to continue their education," she said.

Special courses for teachers

"The most important reason for the success of this project is the way teachers and administrations treat the students," education supervisor Abbas al-Shuwaily told Mawtani.

"All teachers and administrators at Accelerated Learning schools were enrolled in special courses for training on how to deal with this group, the way to engage them, and how understand their psychology," he said.

Al-Shuwaily and his colleagues "will continue to visit and follow up on these schools to ensure success for this national project," he said.

Tariq Ali, director of planning for the Education Ministry, told Mawtani, "We are in regular contact with Accelerated Learning schools to identify the faults that may result from this project because it is a new programme, and we are still making some additions to the curriculum and the teaching methods."

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    شاكر أبراهيم حاجي/م مدرسة الشهب الرصافه /2

    2012-8-8

    We are a mixed accelerating education school. We applied in 2009, until now no official visited us. Please note that we are an outstanding school. Our success percentages are as follow: 2009-2010 = 95%. 2010-2011 = 77%. 2011-2012 = 76%.

  • رعد

    2012-7-12

    Tomorrow will not be a beautiful day without the presence of people who work to make it so. Our future will not be a beautiful one if we rely on a person who studied in a useless educational system. Indeed, education, especially primary education, is the most important stage that a person goes through. He gets his experiences, beliefs, makes the difference between what is right and what is wrong. It is the period where the person makes himself. Thus, we must make it a source of pride. For instance, during his childhood, the Chinese kid disassembles small devices then put them together whereas in our country, kids play with clay. What I mean here is that we must respect man’s childhood and nurtures it with what is good. It should not be a waste of time. The Ministry of Education must develop curricula which are understood by the student. The latter should be convinced of the information. He should not rely on learning things by heart in order to succeed. This would lead to having sterile minds which can only learn and which are not able to understand.

  • عراقي

    2012-5-4

    Iraq needs to evolve and to be one of the prominent States, which must be respected because what happened in Iraq is not easy. Now, the role of Iraq came in order to relax, promote and strengthen its relations with the Arab and the European countries.

  • احمد عبد الرزاق

    2012-5-4

    The future of Iraq is unknown, unfortunately, as long as Nuri Al Maliki is in power. God forbids because the poor Iraqis are suffering a lot and this makes them one of the poor countries needing big help.