We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.


Voices of Youth Digital Diaries

15 October 2004: Iraqi girl describes first day back at school

© UNICEF Iraq/2004
Sara and her classmates are determined to continue their studies – but there are still fewer girls than boys going to school in Iraq

Voices of Youth Digital Diaries are all about young people who want to know more…do more…and say more about the world. Our goal is to amplify their voices by inviting the world’s children to share UNICEF’s electronic podium. These reports are first-person/eyewitness accounts by young people from around the world.

BAGHDAD/NEW YORK, 15 October 2004 - With parts of Iraq still in conflict, the school year has begun with some schools opening later than usual. Parents are concerned about their children’s safety and many were kept at home.

But 17-year-old Sara (her name has been changed) was one of those who braved the constant threat of violence to start the new term at her school in Baghdad.

“I went to school at about 7 a.m. and arrived about 8:30 because there were traffic jams,” she says.  “There are always traffic jams and a lot of explosions so everyone is always late for school – even the teachers.

“A lot of girls were there but most of them weren’t, because their parents were afraid that the school would be bombed because it was the first day.

Sara says classes have to finish early because of the lack of security in Iraq

“There are usually about 10 explosions a day while we are in school and we leave at about 1:30 p.m. After school we used to go out but now we stay at home because it’s too dangerous.”

Sara is studying science and hopes to work in the media. She lives with her parents and grandmother and older brother. Their house was slightly damaged during the last war but she says she is thankful her family can still live at home.

“Our relatives are here and we can see them once a month or so. The worst thing about living in Iraq is that when you go out you don’t know if you will see them again because it’s so dangerous.”

Sara’s experience is typical of many children struggling to gain an education under extremely difficult circumstances in Iraq. Although the number of pupils enrolled in school has risen, there are still fewer girls than boys and security remains one of the biggest barriers to education.

Learn more about what young people are saying: Visit Voices of Youth’s online community. Or find out about UNICEF’s work to promote and protect the rights of adolescents.



Play audio

15 October 2004: Voices of Youth Digital Diaries are all about young people who want to know more…do more…and say more about the world. Listen now to Sara talking about her first day back at school in Iraq… 


New enhanced search