Some 80 percent of Iraq’s children experience violence at home or in school, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) announced yesterday.
“A majority of Iraq’s poor children don’t receive any form of government assistance, affecting their chances to complete their education,” UNICEF said in its first-ever comprehensive survey on children’s well being in Iraq. “Conflict and inequality remain defining features of childhood in Iraq,” the organisation added.
While almost 92 percent of Iraqi children are enrolled in primary school, UNICEF pointed out, over half of children from poorer backgrounds complete their primary education. “The gap widens in the upper secondary school, where less than a quarter of poor children graduate, compared to three-quarters of children from wealthier backgrounds.”
The UN organisation described the education needs of Iraqi children as “vast.” “Half of all public schools in the country require rehabilitation and one in three schools run multiple shifts, squeezing children’s learning time,” it said. UNICEF called on the Iraqi authorities “to invest in services that directly benefit those children affected by conflict and poverty, and to work towards putting an end to all forms of violence against children.”
For years, Iraq has been suffering shortages in school buildings as a result of a decades-long war. The crisis exacerbated over the past few years after a large number of schools were destroyed during the war between the Iraqi forces and Daesh in the period between 2014 and 2017. According to the Iraqi education industry, the country will need some 20,000 schools by 2022. According to official figures released by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning last month, there are 15,150,428 Iraqis under the age of 15, representing 45 per cent of the country’s total population.