"Teachers should be guaranteed a safe and secure working environment," says EI in a letter addressed to the President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, on 16 November. Since February this year, 180 teachers have been killed and up to 100 have been kidnapped.
The dramatic escalation of violence against education institutions and teachers has prompted an exodus of academics and teachers as well as sharp decrease in school attendance. Currently, only 30 percent of Iraq’s 3.5 million students are currently attending classes compared with 75 percent in the previous school year.
EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, urges the Iraqi government to support educational institutions and teachers, and give them the resources to promote peace and tolerance through education.
Below is the content of EI's letter in English:
Mr Jalal Talabani
Convention Centre (Qasr al-Ma’aridh)
Republic of Iraq
Brussels, 16 November 2006
Education International, the global union federation of teachers representing over 30 million members in 169 countries, is very concerned by the continued killings and abductions of Iraqi academics and teachers.
Hundreds of academics have been killed in Iraq since March 2003. The Iraqi Minister of Education has stated that 296 members of education staff were killed in 2005 alone. According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs, 180 teachers have been killed since February 2006 and up to 100 have been kidnapped. Over 3250 teachers have fled Iraq.
Not only do abductions of teachers constitute serious violations of the right to live and work in a secure environment, but of the right to life itself. Education International does not only refer to the recent mass kidnapping in the Ministry of Higher Education’s scientific research directorate. Abduction and murder ravage families and put at stake the future of Iraq. The killings of teachers and closures of schools punishes the young people and does not give a message of optimism and hope.
Education has a major contribution to make to the future of the country and the current violence prompts an exodus of teachers. The resulting massive brain drain of teachers is a catastrophe which affects the reconstruction and nation-building process significantly, and will continue to do so for years to come. The violence against teachers also contributes to a dramatic decrease in school attendance rates. According to recent statistics from the Ministry of Education, only 30 percent of Iraq’s 3.5 million students are currently attending classes. This compares to approximately 75 percent of students attending classes in the previous school year.
Educational institutions and teachers should be supported and given the resources to promote peace and tolerance through education, rather than being targets of violence.
Education International therefore urges your Government to ensure a safe and secure environment for lecturers, teachers and students. Education International will contact the United Nations Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to request that the matter be investigated.
Education International sincerely trusts that this message is one your Government can support.
Fred van Leeuwen
Iraqi Ministries of Defence, Interior and Higher Education
Speaker of Iraq's parliament: Hajim al-Hassani
Kurdistan Teachers Union, KTU
UNCHR Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions