Ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor to se­cure sig­nif­i­cant share of 2013 bud­get

98% in­crease in the num­ber of stu­dents in one decade

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

Ac­cord­ing to the draft bud­get law of 2013 submitted by the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government (KRG), 16% of this year’s bud­get is al­lo­cated for the ed­u­ca­tion and higher ed­u­ca­tion sec­tors.

The most prom­i­nent fac­tor be­hind the sec­tor’s large bud­get share could be the high num­ber of stu­dents, which has in­creased by 98% since 2003. MP Omar Hawrami, mem­ber of the Fi­nance Com­mit­tee of the Kur­dish Par­lia­ment, con­firmed to the Kur­dish Globe that 16% of this year’s bud­get has been al­lo­cated for the ed­u­ca­tion and higher ed­u­ca­tion sec­tors.

“Cur­rently the re­gion has 1.669 mil­lion stu­dents,” stated MP Hawrami. KRG Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion re­ports show that from the year 2003 till the be­gin­ning of 2013 the num­ber of stu­dents has in­creased by 826 thou­sand stu­dents, which is al­most twice the num­ber of 2003.

The main as­pects con­sid­ered in bud­get­ing for the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor in­clude, school out­build­ings, teach­ers and staff, as well as the num­ber of stu­dents.

This rapid in­crease has placed great pres­sure on the Re­gion’s bud­get. To help find a so­lu­tion for this is­sue, the ed­u­ca­tion com­mit­tee of the par­lia­ment has sug­gested that the government builds large and mod­ern schools for a num­ber of vil­lages near each other, for which the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry can pro­vide staff and buses while the Min­istry of Re­con­struc­tion and Hous­ing can pave the roads be­tween the schools and the ben­e­fi­ciary vil­lages.

As per statis­tics of the KRG, the rate of build­ing of schools has in­creased by 81% since 2003, with a to­tal num­ber of new schools reach­ing 2,641.

A let­ter from the Min­istry of Plan­ning shows that the government has started a cam­paign for build­ing schools in 2009, for which it had al­lo­cated IQD 150 bil­lion (ap­prox­i­mately US$ 120 mil­lion) for build­ing a to­tal of 100 mod­ern schools.

Hir­ing teach­ers

Since the be­gin­ning of 2007 till the end of 2012, KRG Min­istry of Ed­uca- tion has hired about 36 thou­sand teach­ers of var­i­ous grades from kinder­garten to high school.

The in­crease in the num­ber of teach­ers dur­ing the past decade has been the fastest in the sec­tor with an in­crease as high as 121%. This means that dur­ing the past decade a to­tal of 54,288 teach­ers have joined the crew of the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry.

More­over, the government ap­proved an in­crease of IQD 150 thou­sand (ap­prox­i­mately US$125) to the monthly salary of all the teach­ers and staff of the Min­istries across Kur­dis­tan.

Since the to­tal num­ber of teach­ers in Kur­dis­tan is about 100 thou­sand, the to­tal bud­get for this in­crease is roughly IQD 17.8 bil­lion (ap­prox­i­mately US$ 14.8 mil­lion) per year for the teach­ers alone, not in­clud­ing other staff of the min­istry.

Fight­ing il­lit­er­acy

Ac­cord­ing to a report by the Ed­u­ca­tion mi­nis- try, the il­lit­er­acy rate was 34% in 2004. This num­ber, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the same min­istry, has dropped to 16% in 2013. More­over, the KRG has a long-term plan to push this rate down to 7% by the end of 2015. The min­istry es­ti­mates the cost of school­ing for one il­lit­er­ate per­son to be IQD 600 thou­sand (ap­prox­i­mately US$ 500) per year. Con­sid­er­ing the to­tal num­ber of il­lit­er­ate peo- ple in Kur­dis­tan is about 109 thou­sand, the min­istry needs to build 3,201 adult ed­u­ca­tion cen­ters to reach its tar­get il­lit­er­acy rate of 7%.

This would cost the KRG IQD 6.5 bil­lion (US$ 5.4 mil­lion).

Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNESCO), the av­er­age il­lit­er­acy rate in the Arab coun­tries is 30% and in Turkey is 7%.

Teach­ers and stu­dents cel­e­brate the be­gin­ning of their 2011-2012 aca­demic year in an ele­men­tary school in Er­bil, Septem­ber 10, 2011.

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