ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A serious shortage of schools available to families living in displacement camps on Iraq's Mount Sinjar (Shingal) is preventing hundreds of Yezidi (Ezidi) children from getting an education and leading to high numbers of new dropouts.
Poverty is an important factor as well since many of the families within the Ezidi religious minority do not have money for transportation that would take their children to schools located elsewhere.
Salam Hassan, a 16-year-old living in Sardasht Camp, told local news agency Kirkuk Now that he dropped out of school last year.
“I want very much to go back to studying, but I am unable to pay the extra money,” said Hassan. “I cannot walk 15 kilometers to get to the high school, nor can I pay 35,000 IQD ($29) for transportation.”
In the majority of the camps, schools are available only at the elementary level. If students in Sardasht Camp, for example, wish to continue past sixth grade, they must somehow get to a school in Sinuni sub-district.
Iraq's Ezidis suffered heavily at the hands of the Islamic State following its emergence in Iraq in 2014. The occupation of the Ezidi-majority city of Shingal led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of their community, considered heretics by the terror group. Islamic State militants subjected women and girls to sexual slavery, kidnapped children, forced religious conversions, executed scores of men, and abused, sold, and trafficked women across areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria.
Murad Alyas, the principle of the elementary school inside Sardasht Camp, said that the one elementary school in the camp, which serves 400 students, "has only four teachers who are volunteers.”
“With the beginning of the new school year, 50 students have dropped out already.”
Camp manager Ali Shabo said, “Education is at risk in both camps on Mount Shingal,” adding that 300 students between the ages of 7 and 16 from both camps have so far quit school. Most of them, he said, were from the poorest families.
On Nov. 2, local officials in Nineveh province, where Shingal is located, announced plans to build 37 new schools to replace those destroyed since 2014.
Shingal was not listed as one of the locations where the schools were to be built.
Editing by John J. Catherine