Qahtaniyah sub-district: high school students travel 30km to school

Al-Qahtaniyah (Gir Ouzer) sub-district bazaar, Shingal (Sinjar) district, Nineveh, October 2023. Laith Hussein

By Laith Hussein

The middle school students of the Kurdish Studies Department funded by the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG in a town of Nineveh province are forced to travel a distance of 30 km to reach their school, due to the lack of a middle school a big burden for almost 100 students and their families.

In Al-Qahtaniyah sub-district, Shingal (Sinjar) district, of Nineveh, which is located between Sinjar and Al-Baaj districts, west of Nineveh, only the federal government has opened preparatory schools, while students from the KRG-sponsored Kurdish Studies Department must go to Sinjar to continue their studies.

Basma Khidir, a student in the 12th grade of middle school in the Al-Qahtaniyah, says, “To continue studying, we must go to Shingal. We studied in Kurdish and we want to continue studying in Kurdish. Otherwise, there is a middle school affiliated with the federal government in the district, but the study there is in Arabic.”

More than 100 students in the Kurdish Studies Department in Al-Qahtaniyah travel by bus to Sinjar, covering a distance of 30 kilometers daily.

It takes a full hour for students to gather and then reach Sinjar, and each student pays transportation fees ranging between 40,000-45,000 Iraqi dinars IQD per month.

“Some of us spend about two hours on the bus back and forth. This is a long time for us. We want to continue studying in our area,” Khidir says.

Some of us spend about two hours on the bus back and forth

The majority of the population of Al-Qahtaniya is of the Yazidi religious component who returned from displacement after the end of the war against the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant - ISIL” (2014-2017), but they still suffer from the lack of many basic services including roads, healthcare, drinking water supply, sewage system, and education.

Hassan Saeed, head of the planning department in the Sinjar Education Directorate for the Kurdish Studies Department, said, “After the return of a large number of displaced people to the region, we decided last summer to open eight new schools in Sinjar district, including a middle school in Gir Ouzer, but he problem lies in the lack of teaching staff to start the shift.”

"The lack of a high school in the area has harmed the educational process, but we are constantly seeking to solve the problem," he added.

Al-Qahtaniyah district (Tel Uzir), in addition to being a disputed area between the Iraqi federal government and the KRG under the Iraqi constitution, is considered, from an administrative standpoint, a disputed area between the Al-Baaj and Sinjar districts in Nineveh.

Gir Ouzer sub-district in southwestern Shingal (Sinjar) is over three-hour drive by car to Duhok Northern Province and over two hours to Mosul, center of Ninewa Province.

Like most other areas of the war-torn Shingal, Gir Ouzer has two administrations; One is temporary in the city center, formed in 2017 after the events of October 16 when the Iraqi forces ousted the Kurdish Peshmerga and took over control over the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil, following the Kurdish referendum for independence, which forced armed groups and administrative officials affiliated to Kurdish parties to flee to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq KRI.

The administration based in town is not officially recognized neither by the Iraqi government nor the KRG. The Gir Ouzer administration, which was formed in the last provincial council elections, has been working in Duhok for five years.

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