The education department of Shingal (Sinjar) district, home to the Ezidi (Yazidi community), has opened two schools for boys, girls, young men and women who survived the atrocities by the extremist militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria of ISIS.
The two schools are scheduled to receive students in two camps for internally displaced persons IDP in Duhok Northern Province for the 2022-2023 academic year.
“I am happy for the opening of fast education schools because many people cannot continue their studies due to age, so I will definitely enroll and start studying again,” said Alia Bargass, a 23-year-old girl survivor of ISIS.
The Ezidi girl graduated from the eighth grade of primary school in the district of Gir Ouzer during the attacks by IS on Shingal, but was kidnapped and rescued three years later.
Earlier, a school principal told me you aretoo old to join school
“Last year I wanted to go back to school but the principal said you are old and we can't accept you,” Alia told KirkukNow. She now lives in Chammisko camp with a brother and a sister out of a 13-member family. Her mother, along with three sisters and a brother live in Germany, but her father with two brothers and two sisters have been enslaved by IS and missing up to the present.
According to the rules and guidelines of the Iraqi Ministry of Education, any student who is absent for two years must go to evening school, and any student who is absent for four years will lose the right to study in the morning and evening public schools.
Iraq practices fast education for those who have been excluded from school for various reasons, yet such schools have not been launched in IDP camps.
In August 2014, ISIS fighters attacked Ezidi community in Shingal and the Nineveh Plains, slaughtering more than 1,000 civilians, including children, in addition to kidnapping 6,000 citizens, of which about 2,000 children have been rescued and over 2,700 are missing.
The Ezidis constitute 30% of the 664,000 IDPs. Last May, thousands of Ezidi families were again displaced from their hometowns to the IDP camps again due to the tension and armed clashes that erupted in the area between the armed groups.
Shahab Ahmad, the administrative director of Kurdish education in Shingal, told KirkukNow that the two schools will be opened for those who cannot continue their education due to their age.
The two schools will be opened in the camps of Cham Mishko in Zakho district (home to over 21,000 IDPs) and Sharia IDP camp in Sumel (home for 12,000 IDPs). In each year, students will pass two academic years except for the ninth grade which takes one school year due to final, central, ministerial examinations.
The education official explained the admission requirements for the two schools: for boys from age 9 up to 22 can join the fast education schools, for girls from 9 to 24 years-old. Those who have previously studied Arabic are still waiting for the approval of the Ministry of Education.
In war-torn Shingal, there are two directorates of education: the Kurdish and the Arabic Education departments, the first funded by the KRG and the second by the federal government in Baghdad. The two directorates have more than 54,000 students, the majority of whom are still displaced in the camps and cities of the Kurdistan Region KRI, where there are 90 primary and secondary schools with about 15,000 students in the camps.
Transportation fares is to be provided for those who attend the two schools from neighbor towns.
Khidir Dero, an Ezidi activist in the Cham Mishko camp, said six of his nieces, four girls and two boys, were excluded from public education due to their age because they were kidnapped by ISIS and later survived it.
"Education directorate should provide fast education every year because now and then people are rescued from ISIS. Besides, it must provide transportation and bus fares for those who come to these two schools from other places," he added.
The administrative director of Kurdish education says they are trying to provide teachers, lecturers and supplies for the two schools and plan to open accelerated education for secondary to 12th grade in the future.
According to the Ezidi Survivors’ Law, which was endorsed by the Iraqi parliament in 2021, as part of the compensation for the survivors of ISIS, the state facilitates their return to school to resume education.