Iraq: Education and practical abilities
Children and youth are often one of the most vulnerable, and hence also the most severely affected groups in armed conflicts. Due to the protracted conflict, approximately 3 million Iraqi children lack access to education. Out-of-school children stand a far greater risk of engagement in child labour, recruitment by armed groups, radicalisation, or in the case of girls, forced marriage. This is why education and psycho-social support remain our top priority in Iraq.
Our education programming aims to address the main reasons for low school attendance, such as insufficient teaching capacities in terms of staff numbers and qualifications or the financial burden put on students’ families who cannot afford to pay for school supplies or transportation. This is the reason why we repair destroyed schools and provide them with equipment such as new teaching materials, teaching supplies for teachers as well as students and air-conditioning for extremely hot Iraqi summers. Teacher-volunteers who are not paid receive special bonuses from us. We train teachers and facilitators to provide their students with psycho-social support in order to help them better cope with the horrors of war which they have experienced. We also organise tutoring for children who missed school due to the conflict.
School rehabilitation and psychosocial support
Our education projects strive to increase children’s school attendance by reconstructing or rehabilitating school buildings and their sanitary facilities, initiating back-to-school campaigns, and distributing school equipment, supplies, and teaching aids and materials. At the same time, we train teachers to improve their pedagogical skills and thereby increase the quality of teaching. We also organise special non-formal education activities including remedial classes for children who dropped out of school for prolonged periods, and help establish parent-teacher associations to encourage their involvement in school structures. Equally, we train teachers and social worker to identify and treat children with post-traumatic disorders caused by the military conflict as such children require a special and sensitive approach to work towards healthy emotional and intellectual development.
Training and Support of Civil Society
In the spring of 2012, in cooperation with Iraqi filmmakers and activists, the first year of the human rights films festival Baghdad Eye was held, aimed at activating civil society and raising awareness in the government, journalists, students and school teachers of fundamental human rights. The festival was supported by the Czech human rights documentary film festival, One World, and so it borrowed the format of after-screening panel discussions and debates, intended to motivate the Iraqi people to formulate and present their own opinions and towards concrete activities contributing towards change. The main festival was held in Baghdad, with regional “echoes” in locations such as Basra and Fallujah.
People in Need in Iraq also implements its domestic programme One World at Schools, where films and participative approaches are used during lesson time. PIN has trained teachers and young volunteers who give lessons using tuition film sets, helping young people form opinions and organise leisure time voluntary student groups. They then try to change any problematic areas or the environment of schools with the help of local organisations supported by People in Need’s small grants.