Education trade unionists belonging to the Kurdistan Teachers’ Union and the Iraqi Teachers’ Union took stock of the situation of education in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, urging the responsible public authorities to make education a priority and allocate an appropriate budget to it.
The Iraqi Academic Club in United Kingdom held a seminar in London on 25 April for members of both the Kurdistan Teachers’ Union (KTU) and the Iraqi Teachers’ Union (ITU). This event was attended by a considerable number of Iraqi academics, experts and representatives of the Kurdistan regional government – the official ruling body of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region.
The KTU President Abdalwahed M. Haje presented on the current state of education and the most significant challenges in this sector in Kurdistan, focusing on the following specific challenges:
- The absence of an educational philosophy and the lack of general guidelines to base cultural plans on and achieve assigned goals.
- To provide the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education with proper budgets. The region needs to build 400 modern educational buildings, open in-service training courses for teachers, and establish basic professional standards, paying more attention to vocational training and people with special needs.
- The increase of Syrian, western and southern Iraqi displaced people, about 1,200,000 people, who need services such as education, as well as electricity and water. The Kurdistan Region bears the responsibility to provide around 300,000 of those displaced persons with such services.
- The radical intellectual and religious influence with threats and attacks on western and central Iraq have contributed to spread radical ideas further and caused many citizens of these areas to fall under the influence of hard-line ideology. It is true that the Islamic State (ISIS) has been defeated militarily, but their ideas are still alive and spreading.
- Religious components of the population, such as Yezidi, Christian, and Ka'akiyeh, have faced many terrorist attacks and threats. Thousands of them were assassinated and thousands more taken prisoner, particularly women, children and youth. The terrorist group ISIS still keeps 3,000 prisoners, and thousands of children are deprived of education in these areas.
In order to meet these challenges, the KTU top leader suggested the following solutions:
- Education should be one of the priorities of the regional government.
- The appropriate budget for education and higher education should be determined.
- The efficiency of teachers should be reviewed and training classes be provided for them.
- Establish research and investigation centres to investigate deficiencies and identify solutions.
- Develop study programs, especially in vocational areas.
- Reduce bureaucracy and grant more freedom to study to deepen the relationship between the faculty and students.
- Pay increased attention to kindergartens and pre-compulsory education.
- Focus more on morning class-schools because research conducted confirms that the percentage of effective education in the morning hours is of 97%, a rate that goes down to 73% with classes given in the evening.
- Reduce the differences between public and private schools. The government should play its role and abide by legal regulations.
Participants agreed that the government does not seem very interested in education and teachers’ unions should, therefore, should put more pressure on the Government to ensure the financing required for quality education.