According to the Kurdistan Teachers' Union (KTU), education in Kurdistan had already deteriorated before the pandemic. Increased investment in education was called for.
The KTU called for a symposium on "Education in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic". The symposium held in Erbil gathered education trade unionists as well as educational and religious figures, MPs and representatives of civil society organizations.
The KTU outlined the level of education in the region and highlighted the main problems and obstacles arising from the COVID-19 crisis.
Long-term shortcomings in the education sector
"In order to reduce the impact and negative impact of this pandemic, we presented a number of ideas to the symposium participants and highlighted the fact that the educational process in the Kurdistan region suffered from a number of shortcomings even before the pandemic broke out," KTU said -President Abdalwahed M. Haje.
These shortcomings include:
- Failure to comply with international agreements aimed at improving and developing the education sector
- The failure since 2014 to allocate an adequate budget to education
- Two or three class shifts take place in many educational institutions
- Excessive number of students and students in classrooms that do not meet international standards – over 40 students in a class
- Not enough training courses to strengthen teachers' experience and skills
- Lack of appointed teachers in various subjects
Advocacy of the KTU
Despite these shortcomings, the KTU is constantly trying to get the government to take steps to improve the sector. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation worse.
Haje regretted that students could only study for 75 days for the 2019-2020 academic year. Attending school has not yet started in the current school year.
"It is true that distance learning was done, but these classes were not fruitful or beneficial as only a small number of students attended," he said.
For Haje, failure or distance learning and learning was due to:
- The lack of reliable and constant electrical energy
- The lack of a good internet connection in the entire Kurdish area
- The lack of experience of teachers and students in using technology that enables distance learning
- The families' poor financial resources and their inability to provide adequate tools and equipment for distance learning
Requirements of the KTU
The educators union has urged the government to prioritize programs that provide funding for education, pay monthly teachers' salaries on time, and encourage companies to provide up-to-date technical tools and equipment to support the educational process.
The KTU is also running a major campaign on media and social media demanding that education be restored to its former state.
Regarding the reopening of schools, the union believes that the population must fully implement health protection measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.