education in the middle east
The Education for All goals, as part of the Millennium Development Goals, aim to ensure that children everywhere, boys and girls, have basic access to education in the Middle East by 2015. However, certain places in Middle East such as Iraq and Yemen are unlikely to achieve this goal.


Decades of war and a poor economic situation in Iraq exacerbated the local education system. According to IRIN news, at least five million of Iraq’s almost 30 million total population cannot read or write. Fourteen percent are school-age children who work to feed their families or simply have no access to education. Also, Iraq has the highest adult illiteracy rate, with almost 30 percent of its rural population unable to read or write.


As the civil war between the government and the rebel groups goes on, education in Yemen has been seriously disrupted. In the North of Yemen, where most of the conflicts took place, schools were destroyed or damaged during fighting. According to IRIN, a reallocation of 10 percent of the military budget to education would afford 840,000 children to go back to school.

A video, getting thousand of hits on youtube, shows a Palestinian child carrying a weapon and claiming that he wants to become a martyr and take revenge on Israeli soldiers for killing his uncle. The anti-Semitic rhetoric teaches children violence in the name of Islamic Honor. However, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the Palestinian Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs, condemned the efforts to teach children violence and revenge. The belief of “an eye for an eye” will only generate more hatred instead of peace.

During times of conflict, children are afraid to go to school and parents are afraid to send their children to school. Most of the time, children suffer psychological trauma and witness losing their family members. The ultimate method for returning children to school is to stop local violence and regain confidence in education to provide hope for the future.

– Jing Xu

Sources: i24 News, IRIN News
Photo: Learning for Peace: UNICEF