“My only wish is to be able to write my name”
Mandali elderly in a race against time to learn

December 5, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Diyala- An illiteracy eradication class in Mandali, 2018  Photo: Haidar Mandalawi

KirkukNow- Diyala

“My only wish before I die is to be able to write my name”, said Abu Subhi, a 60-year-old man, who dropped out of school when he was 10. Now, he is attending classes at an illiteracy eradication center in Diyala’s Mandali’s sub-district.

In a humble classroom, dozens of learners most of them most of them are elderly people, have gathered awaiting their teacher to acquaint them with the basic principles of reading and writing.

Obviously the majority of these learners do not expect to achieve higher certificates; their ultimate goal is to learn how to read and write and make up for what they had lost due to instability and long years of conflict in Iraq.

In the past few years, the Iraqi ministry of education launched a significant program aimed to eradicate illiteracy.

A number of illiteracy eradication centers were opened in Diyala province, drawing large numbers of participants of all ages.

Abu Mariam expressed joy at this experience. “This is the second course I am attending. In the first one I learned how to read and write but now I want to further improve my skills” he told KirkukNow.

Diyala- elderly learners attending illiteracy eradication classes , 2018 Photo: Haidar Mandalawi


Mandali, an ethnically mixed town, is located near the border with Iran.

The 8-year-long Iraq-Iran war severely affected the area at all levels, forcing its residents to flee their homes and eventually many were deprived of education.

Najat Ta’ii, deputy head of the Diyala provincial council’s education committee declared to KirkukNow that “illiteracy rates among Diyala residents are very high”.

He blamed the difficult living conditions and the long years of conflict for the troubling rates of illiteracy.

Muhammad Husseini, 59, has been serving in a government department for more than 30 years. He says “if I wasn’t illiterate my life would have been very different”.

Nevertheless, he is determined to overcome the obstacles and win the race against time.


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