Schools, particularly in displacement camps, are chronically understaffed and in many instances teachers are still not being paid. Classes are extremely overcrowded, there is often a shortage of teachers, and children missing civil documentation are denied the opportunity to receive an education altogether. To make matters worse, humanitarian appeals for education are far from adequately funded, with support from the Iraqi authorities and international donors falling short. These factors have resulted in more than 240,000 children being unable to access education in Iraq in the last year.
This is against a backdrop where millions of children lost three or more years of school during the period of (IS) rule. While some children were forced to study under an IS-imposed curriculum, other families refused to send their children to school due to the group's ideology. In the military operations to retake areas controlled by IS, many schools were damaged or destroyed by airstrikes. While there has been some progress rebuilding these structures, but this has been gradual and not enough to meet the needs of the current school year.
Today, about 1.6 million Iraqis remain displaced, nearly a quarter of whom live in camps and about 90 per cent of them say they have no intention to return home in the next year. In the absence of durable solutions for Iraq's remaining IDPs, the Iraqi government and the humanitarian community have a responsibility to continue providing adequate services to this population, including education. Despite plans to close IDP camps in the near future, adequate education opportunities for students must be made available in these spaces as long as they remain. Likewise, inadequate service provision should not be used to push IDPs to leave areas of displacement before they are able to rebuild their lives. Nearly halfway through the 2019-2020 academic year, significant challenges remain to ensure that Iraqi children – displaced and returnee alike – are able to access quality education.
The Government of Iraq, together with its humanitarian and development partners, must put in place sustainable practices to ensure that all children across Iraq, no matter their displacement status, can access quality education in a safe environment. This briefing note recommends six immediate measures that must be taken by the Iraqi Government and international partners to ensure Iraq's school-aged children affected by displacement have better access to quality education.
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