Saturday, May 29, 2004


Parents and Schools

So many people (mainly in the cities) have always considered their children's education as something almost "sacred". The government started the corruption process in the 70's (and it was a full-fledged war after '79) by making sure that all school teachers were Baathists by refusing all others admission to colleges of education. It was an undeclared war and, fortunately, many of the people taking part in it (on both sides) were not even aware that it was a war! It was something that took its toll from people, particularly during the 90's: many people spent unreasonable hours helping their children with their studies; many suffered considerable financial pains to provide their children with private tuition. Students, whose parents could do neither, had to rely on super-human efforts of their own if they wanted to get into a good college. It was a hardship, but the people won!! It is one of the unrecognised victories of people over tyranny and destruction! The most important "sacred cow" that remained almost intact up to now is the "Baccalaureate": the nation-wide general exam at 18+. All the government could do was to give extra marks (using various flimsy pretexts) to the sons of their cronies for purposes of college admission.

Now consider the following: during those times, education was almost a dead-end for future employment and livelihood prospects. The pay for university graduates was a laugh and by all standards there was no economic justification for pursuing one’s children’s education. In fact many, if not most, people in the countryside – being more practical creatures - turned their back to the whole business. The following story should be read with this background in mind:

True Story

When my youngest boy finished primary school in the summer of 2001, he got a sufficiently high score to encourage us to consider sending him to Baghdad College (still one of the best intermediate and secondary schools in the country).
Baghdad College had its own admission exam for which students had to get prepared, so we enrolled our son into one of the summer courses for that purpose. I had to drop him off to school and then fetch him back a few hours later.

It was July and the heat was something non-Iraqis have no idea of! Every single day, I noticed a woman in her 40’s holding her boy’s hand and walking him to the same school. The distance from the main road (where they evidently left the bus) was more than 2 miles.
When I went back to collect my son at noon, there was the same woman sitting on the stairs of the school waiting for her son to finish (apparently her journey home was too long to make it twice… so she preferred to wait on the stairs for 3 hours!) so she could walk back with him those two miles in the noon sun to the main road again to take a bus. Noon in July!

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Listed on Blogwise