Schools are still empty

  • Nation
  • Monday, 28 Apr 2003

By Shahanaaz Habib in Baghdad 

NASIRIYAH: Schools reopened here a week ago but a general lack of security has made frightened parents keep their children at home. 

Laila Matrud who teaches at the Tijarah secondary school for girls here said because of the current state of lawlessness, parents were afraid their teenage daughters might be kidnapped or sold. 

“It is very hard to tell them to come back to school. The girls are old enough to recognise the danger,” she said. 

BACK TO SCHOOL: Pupils standing in the hallway of Qairuran School in Kirkuk, Iraq, on Thursday. Children returned to school for the first time since the war in Iraq ended.- APpic

There were also some, she said, who feared those bearing grudges might take the opportunity to harm the children of people they wanted to take revenge against. 

“So parents prefer that their children stay at home until the situation improves,” she said. 

Schools were closed when the war on Iraq broke out more than a month ago. When the Saddam Hussein Government fell to the US-led forces, the power vacuum caused a breakdown of order in the country. 

There was looting all over while Iraqi troublemakers went on shooting sprees that shook the Iraqi community as a whole. 

Al Shimuk primary school teacher Sajida Salleh said although teachers in the Nasiriyah area have returned to the classrooms, attendance of students was a mere handful. 

“In my school, only 20 out of 400 students turned up since it re-opened. The situation is the same with other schools here too. 

“Students and parents know that schools have reopened because we have been going around with microphones to announce this. 

“But parents are too afraid to send their children until they are certain it is safe. Who can blame them?” she said. 

The condition in schools too were bad, said Sajida, because all the windows had been broken and furniture stolen by looters. 

“But we need our salaries and the (former) director of education here told us all to come back to school,” she said. 

Another teacher Nahlah Yassim said young children were frightened when they hear bombs falling. 

“There are still explosions here from time to time, sometimes during the day too,” she said. 

Nasiriyah, 485km from Baghdad, saw one of the more intense fighting when the US started its attack on Iraq. 

Pre-university student Adnan Saad, 20, was worried about missing school. 

“The teachers are coming and going. But my family won’t allow me to go because they are scared that some people who have problems with my family might do something to me,” he said. 

Adnan who wants to go to military college to become an officer said he was continuing to study at home to keep up. 

Abdullah Fadhil, 13, however has stopped revising for school. 

“Sure I miss school. But I stopped reading my books because we Iraqis are sure all our textbooks are going to be changed after this,” he said. – JMTM  

Flashpoint:IraqEarlier articles from Baghdad by Shahanaaz Habib

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