Fawsi’s New School

This story was originally posted by Medium

6 July 2015 - Dawidiya Camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) is in a stunning location high in the mountains of northern Iraq, close to the Turkish border. The mountains are dotted with trees and the hills shimmer in the hot sun.

This morning the camp’s children excitedly await an important event: the official opening of their first permanent school.

“I’m looking forward to having a proper school,” says Fawsi, 11. “I can’t wait to have my friends join me there!”

Established in January 2015, the camp is home to more than 4,000 people, half of whom are children under the age of 17. The permanent school was constructed by UNICEF thanks to a grant from the Government of Canada. It’s opening will mean a big improvement in quality of life for the families here.

Local officials and a representative from the Government of Canada formally open the school. Photo: UNICEF/Iraq/2015/Niles

Prior to the school’s construction, children were educated at a nearby host community school, which could accommodate about two hundred students every day.

The camp’s permanent school will have two daily shifts of 400 students, with both an Arabic and Kurdish curriculum.

The classrooms are spacious, well-lit and come with separate washing facilities for boys and girls.

Students stand at the entrance to their new school. Photo: UNICEF/Iraq/2015/Niles

Fawsi and his friends rushed to try out the desks in one of the classrooms, and to discuss how school fits into his long-term career goals.

“I’m a footballer and a huge fan of Leo Messi and FC Barcelona,” he said. “I practice here with my friends every day, and I hope to become a professional like my heroes. But even so, I think it’s important to first have a good education.”


Chris Niles is a consultant with UNICEF Iraq.

Direction donations to UNICEF Iraq: www.supportunicef.org/iraq

Fawsi, 11, (centre) sits at a desk in the new school in Dawidiya Camp. Photo: UNICEF/Iraq/2015/Niles