Improving access to safe, inclusive quality education for the most vulnerable crisis-affected girls and boys in Iraq.

ECW in Iraq

In Iraq, years of crisis, armed conflict, political instability, mass displacement and economic challenges have hampered access to quality education. Climate change and disasters, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, have heightened the challenges. Girls, internally displaced children, and children with disabilities are the most at risk. In 2020, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) supported partners in responding to the pandemic. Subsequently, the Fund launched a Multi-Year Resilience Programme (MYRP) to improve access to safe, inclusive quality education for the most vulnerable, crisis-affected children and adolescents. Results of the COVID-19 First Emergency Response (FER) will be available in 2022. Since the activities for the MYRP began at the end of 2021, results will become available after one year of implementation, at the end of 2022.

Geographical Areas of ECW-funded Interventions
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Investments

Financial Information

National Counterparts

Ministry of Education

Additional Results

  • Number of teachers/administrators trained in emergency preparedness, disaster risk reduction and risk management topics: 332

Programme Info

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Prior to the Gulf War, Iraq had achieved near universal primary education. However, years of crisis, armed conflict, out-of-date policies, economic challenges and a series of sanctions have led to a deterioration in access, equity and quality of education.

More girls than boys are being pushed out of school due to school closures from COVID-19; limited remote learning access; a lack of teaching and learning materials; and other factors. Early childhood education enrolment is alarmingly low. By the sixth grade, girls represent less than half of the students in the education system. About one in four internally displaced children are able to access a formal education, while just 2 out of 10 returnees are back in the classroom. Schools were targeted during the years of war, and only 38 per cent of school infrastructure remains undamaged.

In March 2020, efforts to control the pandemic led to the closure of schools across the country. The Government offered technology-based solutions for learners, but many remote models were not accessible to children living in displacement camps, leaving millions of students without access to education.

Where education services are available, school resources and qualified teachers are overwhelmed by overcrowded classrooms and responding to the unique needs of learners that are struggling to overcome adversity, stress and other psychological factors after years of living in active war zones.

The MYRP builds on ECW’s COVID-19 First Emergency Response (FER) and supports hundreds of schools and learning centres in delivering formal and non-formal education across the centre of Iraq and Kurdistan regions. Grantees reach internally displaced persons in camps and non-camp settings, returnees, Syrian refugees and host communities. The programme also prioritizes education for girls and children with disabilities.

The focus is on rebuilding schools; promoting access to continuous, inclusive and gender-responsive education services; restoring a sense of safety, protection, and social and emotional well-being; and training and recruiting qualified teachers. It also includes strengthening the capacity of both community-based and institutional school governance systems, supporting the government and other local partners in scaling-up the impacts of interventions towards reaching the targets of SDG 4 on universal, inclusive and equitable quality education.

Programme Components

  • Ensuring safe transportation to school. Transportation is provided to vulnerable crisis-affected girls and boys, and children with disabilities. This allows them to travel to and from school safely, responding to the inability of families to pay for transportation and mitigating the risk of drop-out.
  • Increasing remote access through e-learning platform. Given the prolonged time spent out of school and the uncertainty on reopening due to the pandemic, students, mostly girls, are supported with access to e-learning platforms, with sim cards being distributed for remote access. In coordination with school management, children with disabilities are identified to receive individual support.
  • Providing non-formal education opportunities. Grantees support secondary school -age students with remedial courses to help them catch up. The programme works to mitigate the risk of drop-out when transitioning to secondary school; helps prepare students for external exams to obtain formal certifications; and promotes skills for better access to work opportunities. There’s a strong focus on the integration of refugees and internally displaced children and youth (IDPs).
  • Rehabilitating inclusive learning environments. Classrooms are rehabilitated to create learning environments that are conducive for children with disabilities and their specific needs.
  • Training teachers on inclusion and gender mainstreaming. Grantees train teachers and school personnel on inclusion and gender mainstreaming. Tablets are provided to the faculty for remote sessions.

For more information on ECW's work in Iraq, please contact Nasser Faqih: nfaqih@unicef.org

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