Iraqis Teach Against The Odds - 09.29.2008

VIDEO - Baghdad/Adhamiya, Iraq - The ongoing conflict in Baghdad has made a strong impact on the teachers and the education system in Iraq. A large number of teachers left their schools due to the threat of being killed or kidnapped by a gang to be ransomed. In other cases teachers and professors have been threatened or killed by militias or insurgent groups.

Street blockades, checkpoints, curfews and the general lack of security affected the performance of teachers in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. Teachers began to fear attending their school, due to the increasing risk of being killed. In 2007, Al-Mustansariya University was attacked by a car bomb that killed more than 65 students and 10 teachers. This explosion was one of many attacks that have targeted this university in particular since the conflict began. All of these attacks have resulted in convincing many students and teachers to stop attending this university.

Teachers also face another very different type of problem. Although it is certainly not serious in the same way, the lack of equipment and adequate textbooks are another factor in the deterioration of Iraq’s once strong education system. During the spring and summer the temperature in the classrooms can surpass 110 or 120 degrees. Unfortunately, many schools in Iraq are not outfitted with air conditioning systems inside the classroom. Even if students and teachers might be lucky to have an air conditioning unit, in many districts they’re unlikely to have electricity.

In 2007 the Iraqi Ministry of Education initated a new program to assist repairing and rehabilitating the classrooms and rebuilding schools in different areas of Baghdad. The Ministry has recognized that rehabilitation of Iraq’s schools is integral to improving the education system. Unfortunately, the workers who came to repair some of these schools were attacked by different militias, and its believed they considered them to be working for the American forces.

Some teachers such as Maani al-Yasseri have raised yet another issue that causes difficulty for the Iraqi educational system, the high number of students in a single classroom. This causes the teachers great difficulty in delivering lessons to the students, and providing enough materials for each student.


Alive in Baghdad brings you interviews with three teachers at a school in Adhamiya that are enduring these problems everyday and still trying to educate the kids of Iraq despite the odds. If you appreciate the insightful content provided by Alive in Baghdad, which you won’t find anywhere else, please consider becoming a paying subscriber, or making a donation to Alive in Baghdad. You can also purchase Alive in Baghdad T-shirts and DVDs to spread the word.

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