5 years after the reconquest of Mosul, young people face an education and employment crisis – Iraq

Erbil- July 6, 2022, Mosul’s young generation is enduring a brutal legacy left by years of conflict and Islamic State (IS) control, with a lack of jobs and inadequate educational opportunities leaving them with little hope for the future , the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has said on the fifth anniversary of retaking Mosul.

The organization interviewed students, teachers and parents in Mosul, who said that widespread damage to infrastructure, overcrowding, poverty and mental health problems have set education back by several years. One student said that even though he was in fifth grade, he still couldn’t read or write anything other than his name.

NRC analysis of school data from the current academic year shows that one in three schools in Mosul is in need of repair or unfit for use, with 50 percent of all students enrolled in schools with damaged structures.

“Five years after the city was recaptured, the people of Mosul have yet to recover from the many tragedies they have experienced,” said James Munn, NRC country director for Iraq. “Young Iraqis are passionate about their city. The people we spoke to told us that they want to play their part in building a better life, but that they need a proper education and sustainable jobs to change their current reality.”

Overcrowding and teacher shortages also represent some of the main obstacles to adequate learning. In prefabricated schools, widely known as caravans, there is only one teacher for every 51 students. There are cases of 80 children joining a classroom of only 15 square meters. It is common for a group of students to share the same book, since most cannot afford the stationery.

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The conditions and the economic situation of the families are causing higher dropout rates, which reached 20 percent in a school where NRC operates. Separately, final exam results at 10 sixth-grade schools show a pass rate of just 22 percent. In one of the schools in western Mosul, only 3.3% of sixth graders passed.

A clear divide in future prospects was found in NRC interviews with young men and women. Those who were in school or university, albeit a few years behind, said they aimed to finish their studies and get a job, mainly in medicine or engineering.

Samar, 19, said he hopes she will play a role in restoring Mosul’s longstanding reputation as a destination for knowledge and education.

“When I graduate from university, I want to support poor people, because they don’t have money to send their children to school. This is how I want to participate in improving the lives of people in Mosul. The only way I can do it is by having a job once I graduate.”

Meanwhile, those without the same educational or vocational opportunities are less optimistic about the years ahead. Government figures show that 20 percent of young people in Ninewa Governorate, of which Mosul is the capital, are unemployed, although the number is believed to have risen with massive returns in the past two years.i

Laith, 23, described how the years of conflict still take their toll on his generation. He said: “Young people do nothing all day. They stay at home all day. Many of my friends stay home. They cannot think beyond today.”

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Latest figures show that 100,000 people in Mosul remain displaced, five years after the city was retaken from IS.ii While reconstruction has been carried out in some parts of the city, public roads and facilities as hospitals and schools continue to be severely damaged, particularly on the west side of the city.

When asked what needs to happen in the next five years for the city of Mosul to recover, people said there needs to be more jobs targeted at youth, as well as direct cash support for people in poverty. Education remains a priority as parents and teachers have called for more academic staff to be recruited and properly trained.

Notes to editors:

  • In June 2022, NRC interviewed 20 school teachers, students, parents, and youth ages 18-24 living in the most vulnerable areas of the city of Mosul. Separately, official data for schools in the Mosul district. was analyzed by NRC.
  • According to official figures, in Mosul 547,322 students study in 808 schools with 16,456 active teachers.
  • 10,000 students are enrolled in 36 schools that are not in conditions of use.
  • 19,904 students study in 57 caravan schools, in 465 classrooms, for 387 teachers.
  • 77,950 students in 185 schools need rehabilitation or repair after they were damaged in the war.
  • NRC provided cash and livelihood assistance to 5,135 people in Mosul. The organization also offers remedial education classes to help children who are falling behind improve their school performance through additional classes held outside of school hours.

Photos and videos of Mosul, June 2022, are available for free use and distribution here:

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Photos https://tinyurl.com/2p9c5j72

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i Data from Iraq Central Organization for Statistics, 2018

ii Data from https://iraqdtm.iom.int/MasterList#Displacement