Iraqi schools

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The Urban Legend

Tale: Did you know that by October 1, Coalition forces had rehab-ed over 1,500 schools - 500 more than scheduled ? or it's variations:

  • teachers earn from 12 to 25 times their former salaries
  • all 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools
  • Did you know that 3100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been built in Iraq?
  • Did you know that Iraq's higher educational structure consists of 20 Universities, 46 Institutes or colleges and 4 research centers?
  • Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in January 2004 for the re-established Fulbright program?

Status: Misleading While those numbers are most likely true, they do not reveal that parents are afraid to send kids to school due to constant bombings and that most school renovations consisted of a coat of paint

One line rebuttal: A school survey released in October 2004 by the the Iraq Ministry of Education, shows that one-third of all primary schools in Iraq lack any water supply and almost half are without any sanitation facilities

Source: As Snopes has pointed out yhe 2 most popular versions of the mailings start with Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1... and Did you know this ? and were probably inspired by a Coalition Provisional Authority briefing given by L. Paul Bremer.. on 9 October 2003. Some of the accomplishments cited in this piece were echoed in an 8 December 2003 Forbes magazine article by Caspar W. Weinberger..

Snopes: This particular e-mail entitled Did You Know This? managed to appear in Snopes Urban Legends pages who says These types of items are generally impossible to categorize with a single truth value because they typically contain a mixture of fact, opinion, subjective statements, inaccuracies, and literally true but often misleading claims.

Investigation: Snopes does have a point. It is impossible to put the entire laundry list of "accomplishments" into just one category. In the specific claim about Iraq schools the author neglects to mention the security concerns that prevent parents from sending their kids to school, the fact that many "rebuilt" schools were destroyed by bombings later and that for many schools rebuilding consisted of a new coat of pain over crumbling walls.

The Real status of Iraq's School System

School attendance far below pre war levels

As UNICEF says: Because of security issues, school attendance rates today vary between areas and schools. Last July, attendance was estimated at 60 per cent on average, which is far below pre-war levels ... For more about security issues see [ Climate of Fear Sexual Violence and Abduction of Women and Girls in Baghdad (pdf)] by Human Rights Watch

Rebuilt and destroyed again

A [Washington Post article on February 20, 2005 U.S. Feeling Pressure To Rebuild Fallujah tells us that A few days before U.S. ground forces invaded her city in early November, Raja Hamdi Hussein locked the gate of Taburak primary school, where she is director of girls, and fled to Baghdad to wait out the assault.. When she returned this month, she looked around the school and cried... Schoolbooks were strewn about, the doors were broken down and student records were torn and scattered... The walls and ceilings are pocked with bullet holes, and most of the glass was knocked out during the fighting. The classrooms are cold... and the children shiver in their coats.

Reconstruction or paint job ?

According to this October 2004 UNICEF report [ A quarter of all schools in Iraq need major repairs]: The first comprehensive study on the condition of schools in post-conflict Iraq has confirmed that thousands of school facilities (in Iraq)lack the basics necessary to provide children with a decent education. The school survey, released this week by the Iraq Ministry of Education, shows that one-third of all primary schools in Iraq lack any water supply and almost half are without any sanitation facilities.

How many school buildings again ?

The [ October 2004 UNICEF report] reveals that the Ministry of Education survey discivered that: while there are more than 14,000 named primary schools in Iraq, there are only 11,368 actual schools buildings available to house them. Some 2,700 of these need major rehabilitation.

The system is overwhelmed

"Iraq used to have one of the finest school systems in the Middle East," said UNICEF Iraq Representative Roger Wright. "Now we have clear evidence of how far the system has deteriorated. Today millions of children in Iraq are attending schools that lack even basic water or sanitation facilities, have crumbling walls, broken windows and leaking roofs. The system is overwhelmed."

Not entirely Bush 43's fault

Wright said that the decay is the result of over a decade of neglect and under-funding during the sanctions era, as well as the impact of three wars, starting with the Iran-Iraq war.

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