IOM Welcomes Decisions by Directorates of Education in Salah al Din and Ninewa to Protect Children’s Right to Education
27 February 2022
27 February 2022 Baghdad – Every child is entitled to an education, but in Iraq, almost 3.2 million school-aged children – including about half of all displaced children – are unable to enjoy this right. This prevents them from developing to their fullest potential and leaves them more vulnerable to social isolation, exploitation and abuse.
This February, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq welcomed the decision of Ninewa Governorate’s Directorate of Education (DoE) to allow undocumented children and children with incomplete civil documentation to continue with their schooling and obtain official diplomas at the end of the scholastic year upon submission of their civil documents. The key decision was obtained by invoking as legal precedent a similar achievement attained in Salah Al-Din Governorate in January 2022. These come after extensive advocacy efforts, consultations with local authorities and direct engagement with DoE officials by IOM Iraq’s legal programming unit. Over 3,000 undocumented children are expected to benefit from these changes.
Until recently and despite an earlier MoE directive, governorate-level authorities required children to have valid civil documentation to attend school. This posed a major problem for children whose documents were lost or destroyed during displacement, and children born during the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) occupation who were not issued documents or whose documentation is not recognized by Iraqi Authorities.
“This helps to resolve a critical issue faced by returnee families and vulnerable households in Ninewa and Salah Al-Din with respect to children’s access to schools and formal education,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Giorgi Gigauri. “This achievement will serve as a precedent allowing IOM to scale up efforts to support access to education for mobile populations in line with Iraq’s commitments under the Global Compact for Migration.”
Access to civil documentation is a fundamental human right. It is necessary for the exercise of other rights, including education, health, adequate housing, freedom of movement and due legal process. In the context of displacement and durable solutions, access to civil documentation is essential to voluntary and sustainable returns to areas of origin, as it helps to facilitate access to government services and increases community cohesion by reducing social divisions.
The IOM Iraq legal programming unit also supports communities with direct legal services covering documentation; Housing, Land and Property rights; and family law, and provides capacity-building activities for authorities and community-based groups to increase individual and collective resilience to conflict and drivers of violence.
The efforts of the IOM Iraq legal programming unit to obtain the DoE decisions were made possible thanks to the support of the Governments of Canada and Germany.