10 January 2018 – The Kurdistan Teachers’ Union in Iraq was quick to support colleagues and the education system in eastern and southern Iraq after its devastation by an earthquake late last year.
On 13 November, a devastating earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter Scale rocked the East and South of Iraqi Kurdistan, ravaging the Darbandikhan District and Halabja Governorate in particular.
Eight people lost their lives and nearly 1,300 people were injured, some of them teachers and students. According to Abdalwahed M. Haje, president of the Kurdistan Teachers’ Union (KTU), a large number of buildings were destroyed and damaged in Darbandikhan and its outskirts. These included the total destruction of six schools and two hospitals, with seven schools completely damaged, and less serious damage suffered by 13 other schools. Buildings and schools were also heavily damaged in other neighbouring cities.
In response to the disaster, a delegation from KTU’s head office, consisting of the KTU Head, his deputy and head office staff, together with members of the Sulaymaniyah’s KTU branch visited Darbandikhan, where they were met by the local Education Director and supervisors.
Working together, the delegation was able to find a solution to allow for education to continue in the region. All schools have resumed their teaching and learning activities, even in the 13 damaged ones. However, staff in these schools were moved to other buildings, with three or four schools studying in one building, Haje detailed.
The KTU leader expressed his appreciation to the Education Director, supervisors and school leaders for their efforts in Darbandikhan. “As KTU head office and Sulaymaniyah branch staff, we also brought them some administrative supplies as needed. During our visit in the affected region, we and our branch members in Garmiyan also visited the Education Director of Garmiyan and the Directorate of Education in Kalar.”
Haje said the KTU discussed education in Kalar, as well as the situation of refugees in Duzkhurmatu, 900 of whom are teachers and 9,000 students, all made homeless by the catastrophe. Nearly 50,000 are immigrants, many of whom have settled in Kalar, Haje noted.
“Immigrant students must not be far from their place of study and education institutions,” he said, welcoming the General Directorate of Education’s efforts to make sure education can resume in Kalar.
The KTU leadership also praised KTU members as well as school leaders and teachers in Khanaqin, who kept education going in the city.