RHC – 2005-05-09 23:24:02
BAGHDAD (May 9, 2005)– A United Nations study reveals that 80 percent of Iraq’s educational institutions have been vandalized, looted or otherwise damaged since the US-led invasion in 2003.
Jairam Reddy, director of the Amman-based International Leadership Institute (ILI) which conducted the study, told reporters that as many as 48 university professors have been assassinated over the past two years.
The director of the ILI — which belongs to the United Nations University, headquartered in Tokyo — said that “repairing Iraq’s higher education system is in many ways a prerequisite to the long term repair of the country as a whole.”
The study shows that there are 20 universities in Iraq, in addition to 47 technical institutes and 10 private institutes offering courses in information technology, administration and economy.
Most Damage Remains Unrepaired
According to the study, only a small percentage of the damaged infrastructure is now being repaired, and water and electricity supplies remain totally unreliable. Some 2,000 laboratories need to be re-equipped and 30,000 computers need to be delivered and installed nationwide.
The UN report reveals that the Iraqi Academy of Sciences, founded in 1948 to promote the Arabic language and heritage, saw its digital and analog library partially looted during the invasion and subsequent occupation. The Academy alone reportedly needs nearly one million dollars in infrastructure repairs to re-establish itself as a leading research center.
Many Iraqi Educators Have Fled the Country
Iraqi higher education’s teaching staff also has been depleted by more than a decade of international sanctions, imposed on the Arab country in 1990, and by persistent security threats against academics and institutions.
As many as four out of 10 of Iraq’s best-trained educators have fled for other countries since 1990, leaving behind faculty whom the report described as “long-isolated and under-qualified.”
Iraq’s primary and secondary education systems also have been ruined, according to the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF. In a report released last October, the agency said that school attendance had increased as students, parents, and teachers began to brave the risk of bombings, attacks, and kidnappings but that the school system — once one of the finest in the Middle East — was completely overwhelmed.
The UNICEF report notes that there are not enough desks, chairs, or classrooms and that most schools lack even basic water or sanitation facilities — adding that millions of Iraqi students have to walk through raw sewage to get to school.
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