UNESCO opens new secondary school at Baharka Camp in Kurdistan

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Erbil, 17 March 2015 – UNESCO and its partners celebrated today with students and teachers the opening of the newly constructed Baharka Secondary School for internally displaced persons at Baharka Camp in Erbil, Kurdistan. The opening of the school is a major milestone in UNESCO’s efforts to provide quality secondary education to children and adolescents of IDP communities and ensure equal opportunities for both girls and boys.
“The young people in the Baharka camp as those in many other camps in Northern Iraq are at risk of losing everything. They want and need to go to school and we are glad that we can provide them with this opportunity now”, says Axel Plathe, Director of UNESCO Office for Iraq.
The opening ceremony was held in the presence of government and educational officials from Baghdad and Erbil. Also attended by students, parents and teachers along with members of the international humanitarian community and civil society organizations, the event featured a school tour and several student activities.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr. Zayad Abdulqadir, Advisor to the Minister of Education in the Kurdistan Regional Government noted that “As the number of IDPs in Kurdistan increases due to the crisis in Iraq, Kurdistan faces the difficult challenge of providing educational opportunities for all of them.” He further expressed his appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for funding the construction of 5 new schools in five camps: Baharka in Erbil, Dawodiya and Kabar II in Dohouk, Tasolja in Sulymanhiya and Souk Al-Asri in Basra and the renovation of 16 secondary schools in host communities in Dohouk.
“The Regional Government of Kurdistan and their Ministry of Education have opened their schools for the youth and children of the IDP community to enable them to continue their education and help them restore a sense of normalcy in their lives,” said Mr. Abdul Aziz Satori, Director General of Examination/Representative of Ministry of Education in the Government of Iraq, in his opening remarks.
The Baharka Secondary School will host up to 500 students and 20 teachers in two shifts. The newly built facility accommodates 6 classrooms, 10 toilets, a play area as well as a common room for teachers.
Mr. Sar Bast, Mayor of Baharka congratulated the Baharka Camp on their first secondary school, noting that parents will no longer have to travel two hours to send their children to secondary schools in Erbil, helping them save on transportation costs and time consuming travel arrangements.

As Iraq currently contends with one of the largest number of IDPs in the world, UNESCO continues to focus its efforts on providing quality secondary education to adolescents and children of IDP communities within Iraq and Kurdistan. The opening of the school comes within the framework of the project ‘Providing access to quality education to adolescents and young adults in conflict-affected areas in Iraq’, funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The project aims at bringing a sense of normalcy and stability to the lives of Iraqi IDPs and also aims to ensure that a whole generation of Iraqis are not deprived of their right to education. Speaking in November 2014 from the construction site of the Baharka School, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova stated “Education is essential to your future and that of this country- it is the best way to prepare for peace. Education is human rights imperative for Iraq; it is also a development and a security imperative. That is why UNESCO is building this secondary school to give new opportunities to as many young girls and boys as possible.”
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