|An injured girl receives treatment at a hospital in Baghdad. Five female pupils were killed in a mortar strike on a secondary school in the predominantly Sunni Adil District of western Baghdad on 28 January.|
By Rachel Bonham Carter
NEW YORK, USA, 29 January 2007 – At least five schoolgirls were killed in Baghdad yesterday when two mortars hit their high school.
“Children in Baghdad face so many challenges to receiving their right to an education,” said UNICEF Iraq Communication Officer Claire Hajaj, speaking from Amman, Jordan. “So it is particularly tragic that children who did make it to school found themselves caught up in such an horrific attack.”
The education system in Baghdad has been seriously disrupted by the ongoing violence. Many teachers have left the country and many pupils stay home because of worries about their safety. Girls’ schools in particular have suffered, with girls now making up the majority of the many children out of school in Iraq’s capital.
Support for education
UNICEF is working to help these youngsters receive an education; last year, the Accelerated Learning Programme helped 14,000 long-term absentee children pass their final secondary exams.
UNICEF is also supporting the basic needs of 4.7 million primary school students by providing pens, bags, schoolbooks and other educational supplies, as well as by shoring up local infrastructure. The rehabilitation of schools includes the provision of safe water and sanitation along with basic needs such as desks and chairs.
In addition, UNICEF supports teacher training with a particular focus on the counselling of traumatized children. The goal is to ensure that schools serve as a safe haven for children when so much else around them is in chaos.