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UNICEF and UNESCO join hands on "Global Action Week for Education For All" to improve early childhood education in Iraq

Baghdad, 26 April, 2012: As the world focuses on expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education during this week’s Global Action Week on Education (22-28 April 2012), UNESCO and UNICEF stress the importance of early childhood in achieving education for all in Iraq.


“Despite many good efforts, the situation of access to early childhood education for pre-primary school-aged children across Iraq is alarming” said UNESCO’s Country Director to Iraq, Mohamed Djelid.


Today in Iraq, less than 7% of all children aged 4-5 years have access to pre-primary education; nearly three times lower than the regional average of 18% and five times lower than the global average of 41%. There is also a wide disparity in access to pre-primary education services with less than 10% of existing pre-schools located in rural areas. In addition, with an average class-size of 40 students, kindergarten classrooms in Iraq are overcrowded, being well above the normal size for pre-school classes around the world.


“This situation is largely the result of a low emphasis on creating opportunities for young children to discover and learn in their early years of development” stated UNICEF Iraq’s Chief of Education, Ikem Chiejine. “Given the critical importance of early childhood education in developing a child’s mind, instinct, emotion and cognition, we look forward to immediately working with the Ministries of Education and all education actors in Iraq to develop a national framework that specifically focuses on creating these opportunities.”


UNICEF and UNESCO are presently preparing a range of activities to be conducted with the Ministry of Education and Iraqi NGOs to improve early childhood care and education in Iraq. These activities aim to increase the awareness of policy makers, parents and communities on the importance of focusing attention on young children’s early survival, growth, development and education.

The UN reaffirms its commitment to support the people and Government of Iraq to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education as well as all Education for All goals by 2015. The UN continues to support educational system reforms and activities targeting all levels of education in Iraq.


For further information, please visit:


Or contact:

Therese Cregan, UNESCO Iraq,, +962 776 723 416

Jaya Murthy, UNICEF Iraq,, +962 79 692 6190

Salam Abdulmunem, UNICEF Iraq,,

+964 780 912 6782


About Global Action week

Global Action Week is a worldwide annual campaign organized by the Global Campaign for Education to raise awareness of the importance of Education for All. UNESCO and UNICEF actively support the campaign by organizing activities in their Headquarters and Field Offices, mobilizing networks and encouraging Ministers of Education and all Education For All partners to participate.


Using the slogan "Rights from the Start! Early Childhood Care and Education Now!", Global Action Week 2012 is focusing on the first of the six Education for All Goals:  "Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children".


About UNICEF Iraq

UNICEF has been on the ground in Iraq since 1983 working to ensure Iraqi children survive and realize their full potential. UNICEF is supporting the Government of Iraq to develop child friendly policies, build the capacity of institutions that deliver essential services to children, and convene all duty bearers to realize the full rights of Iraqi children. Via a network of staff and partners UNICEF’s programmes continue to improve basic health services, safeguard a quality education, rebuild water and sanitation systems, protect children from abuse, violence, and exploitation, and meet the needs of the most vulnerable in crisis situations.


About UNESCO Iraq

UNESCO Office for Iraq supports Education, Culture, the Sciences, and Communication and Information in the country. In an effort to help Iraq rehabilitate its education sector at all levels, UNESCO's work has focused on rebuilding primary and secondary education, fighting illiteracy, rehabilitating higher educational institutions, strengthening vocational education and enhancing capacity within the Ministries of Education and Higher Education to strategically plan and deliver quality education for all Iraqis.



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