Thursday, September 16, 2010

South Kurdistan illiteracy rates are high

16 September 2010

Illiteracy rates are high in South Kurdistan compared to Iraq an UN agency's report says.

Illiteracy rates are high in South Kurdistan compared to Iraq an UN agency's report says.

One in five Iraqis aged 10 to 49 cannot read or write, with large discrepancies in literacy levels between men and women, a report by United Nations has found.

The report, released by the UN Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit, found that illiteracy among women in Iraq (24%) is more than double that of men (11%) while inhabitants of rural areas are much more likely to be illiterate (25%) than those in urban areas (14%).

The areas worst affected by illiteracy are the Kurdish provinces of Dahuk, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in Iraq’s north, and the predominantly Shiite provinces of Wassit, Qadissiya and Muthanna in the south.

"In general, Iraq is one of the better countries in the region in terms of illiteracy," Nour Dajani, an education program specialist in Iraq for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said.

"In the 1980’s Iraq was recognized by UNESCO as achieving zero illiteracy. It was one of the few countries in the world to do so."

Dajani said that the UN financial sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990 have had a disastrous effect on Iraq's educational system.

"Under the embargo they were not allowed to buy anything, including books and pencils,” she said.

UNESCO hopes to reduce illiteracy in Iraq by 50% before the year 2015.

Several programs run by UNESCO in Iraq aim to reintegrate school dropouts in formal educational systems, as well as create parallel informal educational frameworks where literacy classes took place alongside vocational training.

A large-scale media campaign initiated by the Iraq’s Ministry of Education is also planned to counter school dropout and inform Iraqis of the need for education.

The United Nations defines literacy as the ability to read and write a simple statement related to daily life, as well as basic numeric skills.