Eleven-year-old Maryam Bednam from Qaraqosh, Iraq, should have started secondary school this month. Her dream is to become a doctor so she can help people in her community.
That goal has been put on hold by the latest wave of conflict to hit Iraq. Along with her family, Maryam is now seeking shelter with her family in a hot, crowded tent in the courtyard of Mar Yousef Church in Erbil, capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq. Along with more than one million displaced children in Iraq, Maryam will not be returning to the classroom this year.
The recent displacements in Iraq due to the seizures by militants of the Islamic State has sparked an emergency that forced the transformation of 2,000 schools into makeshift camps for displaced families. More than half of Iraq’s 95,666 teachers have been affected, and final examinations from the previous school year have been postponed again because of insecurity.
Violence has long been a challenge to a government struggling to rebuild its education system. Iraq has the second youngest population in the Middle East and North Africa region; an inability to educate its children will carry a heavy future cost.