Educational inequality will hold back the Region's growth and prosperity, UNICEF warned. Photo: Anmar / UNICEF
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Almost 10,000 students dropped out of school in Sulaimani province in 2018, an education official revealed Saturday, citing family economic woes.
“A large number of students have dropped out of schools in the province of Sulaimani in 2018,” Sulaimani Education Directorate planning department chief Khogir Khalid told Rudaw.
“According to the 2017-2018 school year data, around 10,000 students in Sulaimani province have dropped out for various reasons.”
The education official said the number has equally divided between primary and secondary school students and that many left institutions to work in order to help subsidize their family income.
“Unfortunately, if a large number of high school students dropped out of high school to work, a similar huge number from the primary phases dropped out too,” Khalid said.
The dire condition of one family in Sulaimani resounded across the Kurdistan Region this week after Rudaw TV’s Berpirsyar Program aired their story.
Poverty forced Mubarak Shareef to take his son and daughter out of school when he could no longer afford their expenses.
Soon after the program aired, philanthropists including Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed, the sister of former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani’s widow Hero Ibrahim, decided to buy them a fully furnished home, allowing them to recover and start life afresh.
The Sulaimani Education Department sent Shareef’s children back to school to continue their studies.
“Although we had visited Mubarak Shareef’s house in the past to send his son and daughter back to school, they were unable to return due to their life conditions,” Khalid said.
The Kurdistan Region is still grappling with an economic crisis, which began in 2014. It has led to job losses, unpaid salaries, and falling living standards.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) warned in December that far more needs to be done to reduce educational inequality in the Kurdistan Region.
Although 96 percent of children in the Kurdistan Region attend primary school, just 67 percent go on to receive a lower secondary education, according to a survey led by the governments in Erbil and Baghdad.
In poorer and more isolated areas of the Region, this rate falls to just 37 percent.
UNICEF called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to prioritize funding for the Region’s most disadvantaged children impacted by poverty and conflict.
The Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) surveyed 20,520 households across the country over the course of 2018 in collaboration with UNICEF. The findings of the sixth Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) were published in November.