How ISIS changed Iraqi schools
Iraq’s education system has been devastated by ISIS, but there’s still hope of avoiding a ‘lost generation’
Since ISIS destroyed North Iraq education has been moving back decades in time. Since 2014 ISIS has employed schools as military bases, it has kept in them explosives, it has changed the school programs, it has extended the most retrograde and dogmatic obscurantism with fire, and the schools have been witness of the most violence battles of the last years. Northern Iraq is still bleeding the legacy of war. Despite the successful campaigns to retake the occupied territories, a path of destruction draws in each liberated shred its brutal consequences.
After ISIS took control of Mosul in mid-2014, the extremist militant group closed the city’s 990 schools, altered the curriculum to support its ideology, and then reopened the schools to push dogma over academic learning. Suddenly, education in Iraq’s second-largest city had been devastated from kindergarten through college.
Education in Northern Iraq walks along the edge of the cliff. Children and teachers are finding themselves in the line of fire. There are hundreds of schools in Northern Iraq that can no longer be used any more. Parents are not sending their children to school for fear of what might happen to them along the way. Most of schools found in the recently liberated areas are abandoned, surrounded by a path of destruction and dead bodies of combatants, with all electric system erased and without any kind of water sanitation. Most of these schools were targeted directly by Daesh, the other ones were targeted by the Iraqi security forces and the coalition air force as Daesh was used it as bases.
After the nightmare of the latest years, this is a pivotal moment for the children of Mosul to reclaim their education and their hope for a better future: The conflict has left behind deeply scars in the psyche of children and it has reversed more than two decades of expansion of access to education: An estimated 3.5 million Iraqi children are missing out on education