Occupied by the Islamic State since 2014, Mosul has been in the news recently as the site of the most largely-deployed Iraqi army since 2003. As the state attempts to wrest control of the city back from ISIS, Mosul has suffered heavy casualties and numerous humanitarian crises.
Recently, 40 percent of Mosul’s population was cut off from their water supply as the conflict raged into its sixth week. Additionally, the onset of winter intensifies the anxiety surrounding the food supply.
Education in Mosul has always struggled against a myriad of obstacles over the past 15 years, and the arrival of the Islamic State has only worsened a shaky situation. Curriculums were overturned, textbooks destroyed and children were soon being indoctrinated with violent dogmas and the use of weapons. Students traveled to class to learn how to build bombs and load guns.
Families are removing children from school to avoid these militarized classrooms, the physical danger of traveling and attending school in a war zone. For those who have fled the city, refugee camps are often lacking in educational materials and teachers.
Despite these challenges, camps around Iraq are continuing their commitments to keeping education alive. In the Hassan Sham camp outside Mosul, teachers are seizing the opportunity to establish regulated learning environments for subjects like Arabic, English and Math.
Despite the surrounding chaos, the teachers’ dedication is matched by their students’ passion for returning to regular classes, thriving in the positive and controlled environment. When NPR correspondent Alice Fordham asked a young boy in the camp how it felt to return to school, he responded with, “The happiest.”
This dedication is not just restricted to the small children of the camp. Reviving education in Mosul is garnering support from many outlets, with organizations like the Iraqi Institution for Development, UNICEF and the Norwegian Refugee Council promising to aid Iraqis in their goal to continue education for their children.
– Emily Marshall