Pri­vate schools in­creas­ing in Kur­dis­tan Re­gion

Pri­vate schools are us­ing TV chan­nels to ad­ver­tise for their schools, some aca­demics say ad­ver­tis­ing for schools on TV is not le­gal

The Kurdish Globe - - EDITORIAL - By Salih Wal­ad­bagi

In the past years pri­vate schools have in­creased through­out Kur­dis­tan re­gion, par­tic­u­larly af­ter the U.S-led in­va­sion of Iraq in 2003. Some of th­ese schools have started ad­ver­tis­ing on TV chan­nels, and ac­cord­ing to the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government (KRG) Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion’s reg­u­la­tions, ad­ver­tise­ment for schools is strictly pro­hib­ited. Many have been out­raged by this new ‘prac­tice’ and want the ad­ver­tise­ments to be halted as soon as pos­si­ble to en­sure fair­ness and equal­ity in the re­gion.

Ad­ver­tise­ments for schools on TV chan­nels cre­ates many prob­lems. It puts pres­sure on low-in­come fam­i­lies, and it glo­ri­fies one school de­spite the cre­den­tials be­ing un­known while other schools are hid­den from pub­lic eye. Samira Ka­reem, a mother of three said, “My chil­dren asked me to reg­is­ter their names in a nearby pri­vate school be­cause they are bet­ter than pub­lic schools”. Pri­vate schools claim to bring a new ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem that is bet­ter than what the lo­cal schools pro­vide. In many of th­ese pri­vate schools, English is spo­ken as the main lan­guage as op­posed to Kur­dish, which is the lo­cal lan­guage.

Ka­reem ex­plained her frus­tra­tion, “The Ad­ver­tise­ments are aired in the evening when we are all watch­ing TV with our chil­dren”. She added that the tuition fees are high, and Mid­dle-class fam­i­lies are un­able to af­ford high tuition fees. Peo­ple have a new height­ened aware­ness of the im­por­tance of for­eign lan­guages, such as English, French and Ger­man. How­ever, pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions open­ing that teach th­ese lan­guages or have a cur­ricu­lum based on Euro­pean sys­tem tend to be very ex­pen­sive and cre­ate a im­bal­ance within so­ci­ety be­tween the rich and poor.

The im­bal­ance be­tween rich and poor is cre­ated through the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem be­cause from an early age chil­dren are be­ing taught that a good ed­u­ca­tion can only be found within pri­vate schools. The teach­ing stan­dards at some pub­lic schools is quite poorly, Sa­man Fatah who is a fa­ther of two, and works in the pub­lic sec­tor says, “I be­lieve the KRG should im­prove the cur­ricu­lum of pub­lic schools, and to help im­prove the stan­dard of teach­ing, so that Mid­dle and poor class fam­i­lies are not put at an dis­ad­van­tage”.

Fatah ex­plained that pri­vate schools can af­ford to paint their build­ings in an at­trac­tive, and fun way while pub­lic schools don’t have this. The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion should con­sider im­prov­ing the de­sign of pub­lic schools, and to make an ef­fort in rais­ing sci­en­tific and me­thod­i­cal lev­els of pri­mary teach­ers, ex­plained Fatah.

Re­cently the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion changed all pri­mary school books in or­der to im­prove the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in Kur­dis­tan. The new sys­tem is Swed- ish, but is still crit­i­cized by many aca­demics. Ha­jar Da­wood, the Min­istry’s head of press de­part­ment said the num­ber of pri­vate schools have in­creased dra­mat­i­cally, but the num­ber of state schools are still higher in com­par­i­son. She clar­i­fied that ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry’s rules pri­vate schools are legally pro­hib­ited from ad­ver­tis­ing for pri­vate schools near pub­lic schools.

Two-shift-school hin­ders ed­u­ca­tion

pro­gres­sion

Iraqi Coun­cil of Min­is­ter’s com­mit­tee of ed­u­ca­tion has re­cently an­nounced that there are more than 13,700 two-shift state-paid schools across the coun­try. The coun­cil has formed a com­mit­tee to look into con­struc­tion con­trac­tors who al­legedly post­poned build­ing new schools. Adil Fahd, head of the ed­u­ca­tion com­mit­tee has said the short­age of school build­ings has cre­ated many prob­lems across the coun­try. He sug­gested that it is pos­si­ble for some Iraqi min­istries to trans­fer part of their bud­get into the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion’s fi­nan­cial ac­count in or­der to build more new schools in dif­fer­ent prov­inces.

The head of ed­u­ca­tion com­mit­tee also re­vealed that Arif Tay­foor, a Kur­dish politi­cian and sec­ond deputy to Iraq’s par­lia­ment speaker, is as­signed as the head of the new in­ves­tiga­tive com­mit­tee, adding that they will def­i­nitely fine neg­li­gent com­pa­nies that have not fin­ished con­struc­tion of schools.

A view of the build­ing of a pri­vate school in Er­bil.

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