“It will help me make my dream come true”

GENEVA – When COVID-19 closed schools in Basra, southern Iraq, the academic prospects of many schoolgirls were compromised. On International Day of the Girl, we are examining a United Nations program that helps girls in the region continue to learn.

When COVID-19 closed schools in Basra, southern Iraq, the academic prospects of many schoolgirls were compromised. On International Day of the Girl, we are examining a United Nations program that is helping girls in the region continue to learn.

The 2,570 children of the Shatt Al-Arab district primary school in Basra who are participating in the pilot project of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP), receive a cash allowance for support their education.

“It will help me realize my dream of becoming a dentist,” said Baneen, 12, whose family was able to buy their own cell phone with the money from the program: Cell phones were a popular choice among families involved in the program. the project.

“Cell phones make it easier to study online,” explains principal Zainab Karim, a school principal in Basra.

“Many schoolchildren live in the same house as several other children and share the same phone as their mothers and fathers. Students have their own phone. If they don’t need a new one for e-learning, families can use the money to pay for transportation, daily expenses, or clothing.

This year, for the first time, United Nations agencies also introduced the “Shatt Al-Arab Coding Club for Girls”, which enables girls in the project to study in a safe environment, learn new technological skills and innovate to create digital technologies. solutions. The students are proud to be part of the first club of its kind in Iraq.

“The sessions taught me a lot and they are also fun,” said 12-year-old Narjis. “Plus, the idea of ​​mixing education and gaming works because we usually take our phones for gaming. Here they include educational games.

When girls stay in school and complete their education, their expanded opportunities help them avoid getting married or working too early. Project partners are currently working on a campaign to win hearts and minds to continue educating girls during the pandemic and beyond, and putting into practice the saying: “If you educate a girl, you educate a nation. “

Cash and training sessions

Along with the cash assistance, UNICEF and WFP, in collaboration with the local NGO Mercy Hands and partners, including the Directorates of Education and Health, organized additional training sessions to assist girls on key health, hygiene, nutrition and protection issues.

The allowances, which were paid in Iraqi dinars in three installments for the equivalent of about $ 80 each, helped vulnerable families provide for their children during the school year.

Payments were made periodically to households during the girls’ year in seventh grade, amounting to a total of $ 240 per schoolgirl who remained in education.

This project for girls was made possible thanks to the support of Germany, Canada and multilateral funds. – UN News

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