Iraqi students in IS-held areas demand government recognition

Iraqi students in IS-held areas demand government recognition
2 min read
16 May, 2016
As the war on the Islamic State continues in Iraq, students in militant-controlled areas demand the government recognise their educational efforts despite the group's influence on the curriculum.
Thousands of students have been affected by the conflict in Iraq [File Phhoto: AFP]
Two and a half years have passed since the Islamic State group took control of large swathes of central, eastern and western Iraq.

The IS advance and the Iraqi pushback has rocked the country, forcing thousands to flee their homes with thousands more financially incapable of escaping the war.

For students living through this tense period, years of education have been wasted, despite some schools remaining open in IS-controlled areas.

Even those who fled to makeshift refugee camps - where basic necessities are scarce - have had their education interrupted in recent years.  

Hundreds of school buildings have been destroyed in Anbar, Mosul and Salah al-Din, and in the schools that remain, the Islamic State has changed the curricula to fit its warped ideology.

This has forced the government to dismiss certificates and results from these institutions as unofficial.

"Education in IS-controlled areas are not recognised by the Ministry of Education due to the changes in the curriculum by the group," the educational curriculum directorate at the Ministry of Education said.

IS cancelled a number of subjects such as English, History, Geography, Science and has replaced these with new subjects more in line with its ideology, according to the ministry.

Sources from the Ministry of Education revealed that students in IS-held areas will have a "no failure" designation for the past two years of their study, due to their inability to take official tests.

However, some teachers within conflict areas, especially in Mosul and Anbar where government forces recently launched an operation to push out militants, have denied reports that the IS has scraped a number of subjects.

"The allegations suggesting Daesh has abolished these subjects is ridiculous and incorrect," an anonymous teacher from Mosul told The New Arab.

Although the teacher denied English, Geography and History were cancelled he confirmed topics that do not fall in line with the militant group's ideology, such as those with Shia-influence, have been erased from the curriculum.

Despite not recognising student achievements in schools in IS-controlled areas, there are currently no clear government plans to deal with students that have been forced to lose two years of their education.

However, schools continue to open and work on a daily basis in several cities despite continuous aerial bombardment as well as on-the-ground battles that have killed dozens of students and teachers alike.

As the conflict continues, students remain steadfast in their calls to resolve the issue, urging the government to recognise certificates from schools in militant-controlled areas equivalent to those in other parts of the country.