Iraqi children desperate to learn in ruined schools
By Wisam Mohammed and Salim Ureibi
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Even after clashes erupted in the Sadr City slum in Baghdad, Thamir Saadoun still tried to go to school, hoping it would be open. When he got there the guard told him to go home. That was more than two weeks ago.
"I miss my friends. I haven't seen them for weeks, I want to play with them," said Saadoun, 12.
"I am fed up from sitting at home. I want to return to school to study and to be a doctor, to treat wounded people in the future if attacks happen."
The education system in Iraq, once the envy of the Middle East, is now in tatters.
Violence, a collapse of school infrastructure and the mass displacement of both pupils and teachers have turned many of Iraq's schools into fetid overcrowded ruins, jeopardising the futures of millions of children like Saadoun.
At the end of the 1980s, after pouring oil money into schools, Iraq had virtually eliminated illiteracy.
But after two decades of economic sanctions and war, one third of Iraqi adults now cannot read, Education Minister Khodhair al-Khozaei told Reuters.