The directorate general of education of Salahaddin province has decided to shut a school village for 15 students due to the limited number of students which should resort to another nearby village.
The closure of Al-Radhi primary school and transfer of its equipment to another area sparked discontent of the villagers as the students took mid-term exams and due to take final exams in two months, end of May per education year calendar.
The village of Hama Gharib is located with Daquq district, 44 km south of Kirkuk, home to 97,000 population under Kirkuk province, yet administratively is part of Duz Khurmatu district, the only disputed town within Salhaddin (Saladin, Salahuddin) province.
The district of Duz is home to 120,000 Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens per official statistics in 2014 while non official figures show it has hit 200,000 lately.
The predominantly Sunni province of Salahaddin, about 135 kilometers north of the Iraqi capital, once home for Saddam Hussein, is under the control of Iraq's Shia-led paramilitary forces known as al-Hashid al-Shabi, the Popular Mobilization Forces PMF.
“Our school has been shut forever and when the pupils ask us what they have to do, we have no proper response,” said Abbas Gili, a teacher of Al-Radhi (Razi) school.
Currently the students are at home and those want to continue the current year has to register in a nearby village.
The equipment has been transferred to another school in a village 25 km away from the village, said Ghalib Mohammed, council of Hama Gharib village.
Alike all other sectors, education sector is divided in the disputed territories between Baghdad which funds schools teaching curriculums in Arabic language while the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG funds schools in Kurdish language.
Local officials are concerned that such a step might lead into serious consequences.
“It is too bad for the students who were supposed to take final exams after one month,” said Ahmed Ramadhan, education supervisor (inspector) in Duz Khurmatu.
KirkukNow has contacted directorate general of education in Salhaddin yet could not manage to get feedback.
Nawzad Dawudi, a community figure of the village, told KirkukNow, “despite the threats by Daesh (ISIS) and lack of public facilities, the government has shut the school instead of sending more aids despite our efforts and pleas to local officials.”
The residents of Hama Gharib village have been three times displaced due to the security gap in the region.
In mid-February, over 1,500 villagers were asked by the security forces to leave their villages in Beji district of Salahaddin province due to the “security vacuum” in the region.
337 families have evacuated five villages to center of Makhool sub-district, adjacent to Hawija district of Kirkuk province from the east and Anbar province from the west.
Those five villages, mainly Sunni Arabs, are displaced for the second time after they were forced to escape Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS atrocities in 2014 up to end of 2017 when Iraqi forces regained control of Tikrit, center of Salahaddin province.
The villages located northwest of Tikrit are a bit far from the last security checkpoints by Salahaddin security forces which is a vast wide area.