UNICEF helps 682,000 children access education in Iraq in 2016

Stories from UNICEF in Iraq
5 min readJan 29, 2017


© UNICEF/UN038009/Khuzaie

In Iraq, a protracted conflict and multiple overlapping humanitarian crises have had a devastating impact on the education system. Nearly 3.5 million school-aged children attend school irregularly, or not at all.

UNICEF is working with the government of Iraq to get children back to school. School helps keep children safe and protected from risks, including gender-based violence, recruitment into armed groups, child labour and early marriage.

© UNICEF/UN043607/Khuzaie

An estimated one in five schools in Iraq are out of use. Many schools that are in session conduct two or three shifts per day to accommodate extra students who’ve been displaced from other areas and those whose regular schools were damaged or destroyed by conflict.

Above, damage from conflict to a classroom in Fallujah, as seen in November 2016.

© UNICEF Iraq/2016/Khuzaie

With generous contributions from donor partners, UNICEF has mobilized tremendous resources to support the Government of Iraq to address education needs. In 2016 UNICEF helped an estimated 682,000 children access education.

Above, displaced children in Baghdad’s Al Takiya Camp attend an assembly before going to class in January 2016. Later in the year UNICEF upgraded the school by replacing tents with sturdy, climate-controlled prefabricated classrooms.

© UNICEF/UN047859/Anmar

Across the country, UNICEF continued to increase access to education and to improve the quality of learning environments for displaced and host community children.

Above, children line-up to receive new winter school uniforms from UNICEF at Rubar School in Erbil. The uniforms were made by Syrian refugees participating in a UNICEF-supported job training programme. Rubar School was completed as part of a large-scale UNICEF-supported project to build or complete construction of 37 schools in the Kurdistan Region.

© UNICEF/UN042092/Anmar

As the lead UN agency for the education cluster in Iraq, UNICEF supported access to temporary learning spaces for almost 74,000 children in 2016.

Above, children displaced from Mosul follow a lesson at a temporary learning space in Hassan Sham Camp in Ninewa Governorate.

© UNICEF Iraq/2016/Khuzaie

To increase the quality education in Iraq, in 2016 UNICEF helped more than 3,300 teachers and education personnel to participate in trainings on a range of topics, including the provision of psychosocial support in the classroom.

Above, teachers take part in a UNICEF-led workshop in Najaf.

© UNICEF/UN08248/Khuzaie

In 2016 UNICEF provided educational supplies for more than 520,000 children, including textbooks, notebooks, stationery, school bags and teaching materials.

Above, girls look at their new school bags after a distribution for children from five schools in Baghdad’s Al-Amiriyah District.

© UNICEF/UN038012/Khuzaie

In Ramadi, Fallujah and elsewhere in Anbar Governorate, UNICEF is helping repair schools damaged by conflict.

Above, Hussain, 10, raises his hand during class at Hanin School in Khalidiya, Anbar Governorate. UNICEF provided six prefabricated classrooms to the school, which operates in three shifts to accommodate 1,050 displaced and host community students.

© UNICEF/Iraq/2016/Anmar

UNICEF is implementing innovative ways of helping out-of-school children, including running mobile schools, summer catch-up classes, and providing cash assistance to vulnerable families. In 2017 UNICEF will work to reach Syrian refugee children through e-learning.

Above, eight-year-old Isra takes notes in class at a school in Erbil. She missed more than a year of school when her family fled conflict in Damascus. Isra’s family benefits from a UNICEF cash assistance programme that helps keep both her and her older sister in school.

“We miss Damascus, and our family and our old life,” said her mother Kafiya. “But the most important thing is that my children are safe and back in school.”

© UNICEF/Iraq/2016/Niles
© UNICEF Iraq/2016/Khuzaie

Education is essential to peacebuilding and fostering more resilient and cohesive societies. Moreover, girls and young women who are educated have greater awareness of their rights and freedom to make decisions that affect their lives, improve their own and their children’s health and chances of survival, and boost their work prospects.

Above, a girl writes on a blackboard at a UNICEF-supported school in Baghdad’s Al Takiya Camp.

© UNICEF/UN050207/Anmar

In 2017 UNICEF will further help the development of children’s education in Iraq, including by ensuring that schools are re-started in newly retaken areas.

Above, Mr. Faris, a sports coach, poses for a photo with his students on January 23, 2017. Schools in eastern Mosul re-opened as part of the Ninewa Directorate of Education’s efforts to bring back regular classroom learning to children in the city after over two years of closure under ISIL control.

“I am very happy today because I can see that the school is crowded,” he said.

“It’s like a dream for us.”

UNICEF is grateful to donors who support our work to ensure children across Iraq have access to quality education, including the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Bank for Reconstruction (KfW), the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the Educate a Child programme, and the people of Japan, Canada, Denmark, Korea, Kuwait, Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.



Stories from UNICEF in Iraq

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