“Neglect of education … the corruption happens deliberately in Iraq to serve the interests of regional and global powers which see the progress of Iraq a threat to prevent its hegemony on it.
Shatha Khalil *
Iraq was one of the advanced countries in education in the seventies and eighties of the last century, where it made great progress and a huge leap during these two decades, and received two awards from UNESCO before (2003) due to achievements in the education sector, where Iraq declared in1991 a country free from illiteracy.
Iraq has suffered from a lack of schools for elementary, middle and secondary schools, in addition to the presence of hundreds of clay schools spread in rural and remote areas of the country, making the most existing schools adopt dual and tripartite work in an unsuccessful effort to solve the problem.
The problem worsened with the worst picture after 2003 and to this day . Education Committee in the House of Representatives revealed that the Ministry of Education needs more than (20) thousand schools throughout the country, that means the lack of school buildings in all governorates of the country, amid the spread of images of the tertiary and quadrant education systemin one school and the schools of mud, which shows the magnitude of the tragedy and corruption that today caused illiteracy exceeded (20%), and about 3 million children drop out of schools .. How this situation has reached this level despite all the millions of dollars allocated to solve those crises?
Since the year (2003) the steps of projects and allocations of funds had been began to eliminate the crisis of school buildings to find the following:
The projects of Ministry of Education were launched in 2008 to meet the country’s need for school buildings.
The projects were carried out in the form of direct invitations in three stages: steel structures, salvage of marshes and ready-made construction, the last of which was the largest in terms of number and funds allocated, known as ( Project Number One, ) where the project of ready- made construction was prepared to build more than(1700 ) School at a cost of up to (1.2) million dollars for the school, and the completion period ranging from one year to two years.
Ministry of Planning, the body responsible for studying projects and drawing plans as needed in most areas and government projects, the official spokesman of the Ministry of Planning, Abdul-Zahra al-Hindawi said that “the Ministry of Education referred the project in all stages to two parts: part to the government sector through companies belonging to the Ministry of Industry and Ministry of housing and construction , and the other part to the private sector with (21) contracts signed within (50) projects, (18) contracts referred to the ministries of government, and (3) only contracts referred to the private sector companies.
Hindawi pointed out that “the government sector referred its contracts to the private sector companies. According to the instructions, the ratio of the first operational payment, which amounts to (60%) of the cost of the project, is granted or given to government sector companies without guarantees considering it as a government sector noting that the guarantees are taken from private companies only. “
Shirwan al-Waeli, a former parliamentarian and current adviser to the president of the republic, stressed in these contracts that they have set conditions – the demolition of old schools , but they did not implement the new schools. The children remained either in caravans donated by non-governmental organizations or, the children remained without schools unfortunately , or some of them have been integrated into other schools, although these amounts are already paid , both concrete and iron, or from the marsh rehabilitation budget, because the fact is that they were not implemented (100%) as contracts, but partially implemented. “
Wael al-Waeli said that “the duration of construction of iron schools six months, and the concrete schools one year , and today after eight years , they have not been fully implemented.”
Through follow-up, it was found that the last project was the most allocated, and the completion rate of the project after five years did not exceed (15%) despite the government paid more than (60%) of the receivables of contractors.
The project was not satisfied only with the completion rates, but deliberately destroyed hundreds of schools that were accommodating thousands of students, hoping to rebuild them, which appears in one of the documents we obtained for the project, which requires the destruction of old schools , causing the transfer of students to temporary caravans until Complete the construction.
Specialized studies show that since 2003, Iraq has spent more than $ 22 billion on the basic education sector. The problem of mud schools is one of the most important corruption cases. A budget has been allocated for the construction of modern schools and removal old ones , but more than ( 2000 ) Clay school in Iraq.
The Ministry of Education provided statistics showing that the number of mud schools in Iraq is more than (2000) schools, the largest proportion of which are in the governorates of Dhi Qar, Basra, Amara, Muthanna, Qadisiya and Najaf. It has about 15,000 students, and the staff is about (7000) teachers and employees. Of course, this figure has been increasing significantly since six years, and the matter has become even worse, especially in the provinces of Babil and Dhi Qar, where mud schools are widespread, with obvious deficits in educational buildings. Mud schools are often built at the request of people in remote areas, after the parents provide a piece of land to create a school of mud or reeds or Palm or caravans.
Mud school students in Iraq suffer from the heat of the summer and cold winter, there are no means of heating, and protection from the fluctuations of the atmosphere. Wind blowing or rain raises the fear of students and professors together, where most schools in rural Iraq lack the necessary health conditions, basic services such as water, electricity, and lack of modern education.
School Caravans, What do you know about them?
Specialized scientific studies have confirmed the tragic reality of the Caravan classrooms from the perspective of teachers and educational supervisors, because the classrooms should be available even in the minimum of healthy environment. The high temperature in summer, rain and humidity in winter, negatively affect the student, The teachers and educational supervisors stressed that the place of study in alternative schools (caravans) has had a great impact on the scientific level of school students, and that the caravans and its impact on the educational process from the perspective of teachers and Educational supervisors as follows:
High summer temperatures, rain and humidity in the winter, negatively affect the student (95%), and lack of absorption of the caravans of the large numbers of students, and the place of caravans is not suitable for the atmosphere, and the lack of recreational lessons such as sports and art.
Caravans have an impact on the healthy side of the student with a rate of (% 90.33) and the lack of good furniture in these schools and the presence of noise inside the caravans as a result of the wooden floor, which results in the effect on students, lack of drinking water in them, and poor lighting and ventilation inside the classrooms because of the ventilations are very small.
The lack of means of clarification in these schools, and the suffocation of students in the school yard because of the lack of adequate spaces in them, and their impact on the scientific side of the student with a rate of (80.66%), and have a negative impact on the psyche of the student, and it is unsafe, unhealthy and uncomfortable for the student and the teacher at the same time.
The specialists pointed out that one of the main obstacles facing the solution to this problem are:
The need to support the regulatory effort and to pursue the default and corruption.
Increase legislative, regulatory and procedural efforts in this area.
Reduce the waste and theft of financial allocations.
Weak technical expertise.
Limited solid companies.
The school buildings are old with a lack of required maintenance programs.
The need to review and enact appropriate legislation to encourage investment in education and create new ways to solve the problem.
Although Iraq is hovering on a lake of oil, illiterate numbers have reached about 5 million, while students are learning in an unhealthy, polluted school environment , repellent for children that represent misery and deterioration in an age when nations are evolving in which the students use the computer instead of the books and notebooks, and connect the students of one class to a network with all the teachers and the administrators of the educational process, where the information is transmitted in a fraction of a second, at a time when Iraqi students receive their education in mud schools and others are built from cane as well as schools of huts.
Hence, we must emphasize the need to work hard of the Iraqi government, and all responsible and concerned parties, to find permanent and quick solutions to the problem of the lack of the large number of schools, and not to resort to temporary solutions, which later become problems, and work to improve the conditions of study in it.
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic studies