Return of Hope: Thousands of Illiterates are Learning Reading and Writing

January 31, 2017 at 8:01 pm

The writing and signs on the streets are no longer odd for Ebtisam. She can now read them and find any place she wants without asking for help from others as she used to.

Ebtisam Mahmmod has spent her life without literacy. She and hundreds of people in Kirkuk were introduced to an education process which opened their eyes to literacy, and raised their awareness.

The centre for illiteracy eradication was opened in Kirkuk in 2009 by the Iraqi Ministry of Education. Up to five thousand civilians have registered as students and they are now benefiting from that process.

40-year-old Ebtisam Mahmmod is studying in one of the centres for illiteracyeradication programs in Kirkuk. She told KirkukNow that, “I had many problems with reading; whenever I wanted to go to the clinician’s street, I would have to ask five to six times to find a doctor.Thanks God I don’t have those kinds of problems anymore.”

She promised herself to finish the preliminary stage, “Education here is about having faith in you. If you trust your abilities, you can even enter college.” Ebtisam said that she left school when she was only eight.

There were only a few centres in the beginning of the process of illiteracy eradication. But now there are 200 centres in the entire Kirkuk province and the number of participants is rising every day.


Sahar Al-Azawi, who is responsible for the announcement of the illiteracy eradication, told KirkukNow that, “In the beginning of the project, there were only a few teachers teaching in the centres. Since 2012, the Ministry of Education has employed 156 people including 30 teachers and the rest work in the administration and management departments.

In the beginning, the centres for illiteracy eradication only worked on Fridays and Saturdays. But for several years now the work has been taking place for 3 hours on a daily basis.

23-year-old Ekhlas Salahalddin said that, “I’m ready good at reading and writing now, and I can even teach my children at home. I can also read the news on the TV.”

Ekhlas left school when she was in 4th grade. When she contacted the centres for illiteracy eradication, she took a test and she was accepted into the 5th grade. She told KirkukNow that, “This is too much for me because I couldn’t even recognize the alphabet before.”

Age is not a barrier for participating in the literacy centres, and beneficiaries of the study, aged between 15 to 70 years.

The responsible person at the literacy department said that, “The beginnersat the start of the enrolment must perform complementary primitive examinations in order to determine their level of literacy and place them in their proper stage of the study.”

The students will study until the sixth grade and the components of the curriculum include reading, general science and mathematics, but still none of the students were able to reach the university level and study at the universities in Kirkuk.

Sahar Al-Azawi said that they opened a new centre in 2015 for those students who have accomplished theirprimary stages and want to continue. The centre offers workshops for teaching the art of cutting and sewing, workshops for teaching grooming and beauty of women, the education of using razors and barber skills for men, teaching computer science, and workshops for teaching craftworks. This year, the number of these centres reached 12 and some 1,500 people are benefiting from this.

Beneficiaries of the study aged between 15 to 70 years.

Beneficiaries of the study aged between 15 to 70 years.

47-year-old Nahlla Ali is an IDP from Hawij in Kirkuk, and she studied until eighth grade. She knows how to read and write and has enrolled herself in order to benefits from the different workshops.

She told KirkukNow that, “I have enrolled myself into two sessions which I’m interested in which include computer science and sewing, and I was able to participate in a braid exhibition.”

The director of the literacy program has opened centres in the North Gas Company and the electricity and agriculture circuits in Kirkuk for the purpose of raising the literacy of the guards and the workers.

Sahar Al-Azawi also revealed that, “The literacy directorate is working on opening a centre as part of the education department in Kirkuk because according to a decision of the Ministry of Education, the guards and the school staffs should have at least a primary school certificate otherwise they will have to enrol themselves at the literacy centres.

Last year, one of the students of these centres was able to be the first on the city level in primary schools in Kirkuk. The materials are provided to the students in three languages which include Kurdish, Arabic, and Turkish. There was a special centre for the Christians, but it was closed because of the absence of anyone who wanted to continue with the study there.



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