Back to Learning Campaign is launched in the KRI to improve access to quality education for out-of-school children and welcome Syrian refugee children into the public school system
21 September 2022
Starting this year, the Refugee Education Integration Policy (REIP) was introduced to support Syrian refugee children to access quality, inclusive and sustainable education through the public system and to further their integration and participation in community life in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Erbil, 20 September 2022 - Marking the new academic year in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), the Ministry of Education of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), jointly with UNICEF, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Save the Children and the education partners launched the “Back to Learning Campaign” to further improve access for out-of-school Iraqi children and welcome refugee children to quality education in public schools. The campaign reaffirms the commitment of UN agencies and partners to support the implementation of the Refugee Education Integration Policy (REIP) that was adopted by the KRG in late 2021. Under the slogan: “Education for All For a Better Future!”, the launch event was held at Bahari nwe school in Erbil, where some Syrian refugee children are now enrolled.
“With the support of our partners, we are committed to reach out to the most vulnerable children and help them realize their dreams of a better future,” said H.E. Alan Hama Sa'eed Salih, Minister of Education of KRG, at the event, emphasizing the importance of all children having equal access to education.
Starting this academic year, all refugee children aged six to nine can register and study in any public school in KRI. The Ministry of Education of the KRI, in cooperation with the Directorates of Education, schools and education partners will ensure access to education for all children in a welcoming learning environment. Children will receive instruction in officially recognized curriculum languages (Sorani, Badini, Assyrian, Turkmen, English and Arabic) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
“Every child has the right to education, formal, non-formal, on-line or in-person education, no matter what their background or situation is. UNICEF wants all children in schools and learning. This also applies to refugees and hence, the implementation of the Refugee Education Integration Policy will give a brighter future to the refugee children. UNICEF will continue to support the Ministry of Education of the KRI to implement this policy, committing to reach all children with quality education,” said Teija Vallandingham, Chief of Education of UNICEF in Iraq. “Inclusion of the refugee children in the education system is one step towards an inclusive society.”
“It is our collective responsibility to exert every effort to pave the way for a better future for displaced children. The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Education shows great leadership by welcoming refugee children to enroll in public schools and qualified refugee teachers to participate in these education efforts. The KRI shows the region and beyond what it means to welcome refugees,” said Jean-Nicolas Beuze, UNHCR Representative in Iraq. “Many of the refugee students in KRI were born here after their parents fled their homes in North East Syria in particular ten years ago. Learning alongside their Iraqi Kurdish friends will give them further opportunities to create bonds that will keep communities together.”
“Children are the future of our country and this is our responsibility to ensure that ‘no children is left out from the right to have a potential and better future’ – which can be enabled through bringing them to the school and learning centre throughout this Back to Learning Campaign. As a leading child rights organization, Save the Children believes that education is a fundamental right of children, regardless of their ethnic, religious, migratory, ability/disability status and gender and over the years, Save the Children has supported the right to education for thousands of children including refugees, host communities and Iraqi internally displaced persons by the Da’esh violence,” said Rizgar Al-Jaff, Acting Country Director, Save the Children Iraq. “Save the Children, along with all the education partners, UN agencies, national and international NGOs, must continue their efforts to ensure that all children, without discrimination, from all corners of Iraq, have access to quality education.”
In addition to the REIP, the Back to Learning Campaign aims to address the key factors that have resulted in children being out of school. The first goal is to ensure that Iraqi out-of-school children and adolescents are identified and have access to physical or virtual learning facilities/platforms under formal or non-formal education. The campaign then further addresses other social, cultural, economic, political, behavioral or personal issues that hinder their access to education. Authorities in the education sector will be notified about the new and emerging issues that have impacted children’s access to education and have left them out of schools. To keep track of these achievements, an online system will record necessary information about these children and adolescents, reasons for being out of school, and progresses made in supporting the children until enrollment in formal or non-formal education. Around 33,000 out-of-school Iraqi children and adolescents are targeted to be reached this year during the campaign.
To fill this learning gap, UN agencies and partners will continue supporting the Ministry of Education of the KRI to provide access to education to all children including the Syrian refugee children and adolescents.
Notes to editors:
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org
For more information please contact:
Miguel Mateos Munoz, Chief of Communication & Advocacy, UNICEF Iraq,
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, protects people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We work in over 130 countries, protecting millions of people by responding with life-saving support, safeguarding fundamental human rights and helping them build a better future.
For more information about UNHCR, please visit: http://www.unhcr.org
For more information about education services for refugees in Iraq, please visit: https://help.unhcr.org/iraq/en/rights-and-obligations/education/
For more information please contact:
Firas Al-Khateeb, Spokesman and Communication Officer, UNHCR Iraq,
Shaza Shekfeh, Associate Communication Officer, UNHCR Iraq
About Save the Children
Save the Children has been working in Iraq since 1991. We are one of the largest international NGOs working in 100 + countries around the world, responding to humanitarian, recovery, and development needs of children and their families with the believe that every child deserve a future full with opportunities.
We operate integrated child-focused programs across Ninewah, Dohuk, Kirkuk, Salah- addin, Anbar, Basra, Diyala, and Baghdad
For more information about Save the Children Iraq. ( www.iraq.savethechildren.net)
For more information please contact:
Noor Mousa, Advocacy and Campaign Coordinator, SCI IRAQ.