Two Chinese companies have signed deals with Iraq to build 1,000 schools in the country over two years. Iraqi housing ministry official Hassan Mejaham said the country needs a total of 8,000 schools “to fill the gap in the education sector”. The agreements were signed on December 16 with Power China to build 679 schools and Sinotech to build the remaining 321, in presence of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Khademi.
Mejaham said that Iraq would fund the project using oil products. China is one of the biggest buyers of Iraqi oil. The next phase of the project involves the construction of 3,000 schools followed by 4,000 more in the final phase.
“Decades of conflict and under-investment in Iraq have destroyed what used to be the best education system in the region,” UNICEF said on its website, adding that “one in every two schools is damaged and needs rehabilitation”. Nearly 3.2 million school-aged Iraqi youngsters are out of school. In October, the World Bank had cautioned that the coronavirus would worsen low levels of education.