School Climate & Safety

Teachers, Bus Driver Slain in Iraq

By Mary Ann Zehr — October 04, 2005 2 min read

Despite an attack on a primary school in Iraq last week in which intruders shot and killed six school workers, UNICEF’s education chief for Iraq predicts that parents there will continue to take extraordinary risks to send their children to school.

The attack “will always have a negative effect, but the Iraqi people value education so much that they are prepared to take the risk and make sure that their children go to school,” Maman Sidikou, the education section chief for Iraq for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, said in a Sept. 28 e-mail message from Amman, Jordan.

“Three wars, a decade of sanctions, schools in need of repair, and a lack of trained teachers have not discouraged parents from ensuring that their children attend school and take their final exams,” he wrote.

A group of nine men wearing Iraqi police uniforms barged into the Jazeerah Primary School in a village near Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad, on Sept. 26. They ordered the five male teachers and the school bus driver—all Shiite Muslims—into a room and then shot at them, killing the six men. Mr. Sidikou said those facts, published in news reports, were confirmed by Iraqi authorities.

“The United Nations condemns this heinous act, which is absolutely unacceptable by any standard anywhere,” Mr. Sidikou said.

The incident is not the first time that Iraqi educators have been murdered, he said, but so far, university professors have been the prime targets. Mr. Sidikou said that the teaching capacity at universities in Iraq has been decreasing because professors are wary of appearing on campuses.

Isolated Case?

The attack on the Jazeerah school could represent a new tactic of violence, Mr. Sidikou said. “While we hope this is an isolated case, we are also not aware of the motives behind the attack—so who can say?” he wrote.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad referred an inquiry about the school attack to the Iraqi Ministry of Education, which did not respond to a request for comment. The U.S. Department of State did not respond to requests for comment as of press time last week. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has a contract with the Washington-based Creative Associates International to assist the ministry, said it wasn’t the role of the agency to comment on the security of schoolchildren in Iraq.

Mr. Sidikou said the new school year opened in Iraq on Sept. 11. With support from the United Nations, the Ministry of Education made sure that the 4.5 million Iraqi children in primary schools received school kits containing notebooks, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, and rulers, among other supplies, he said.

Most Iraqi children are attending school, the UNICEF official said, but an enrollment survey hasn’t been completed yet for the 2005-06 school year. The proportion of primary-age children enrolled in school last school year was an estimated 86 percent, compared with an average of 81 percent in the Middle East, he noted.

A version of this article appeared in the October 05, 2005 edition of Education Week as Teachers, Bus Driver Slain in Iraq

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Families & the Community Webinar
Family Engagement for Student Success With Dr. Karen Mapp
Register for this free webinar to learn how to empower and engage families for student success featuring Karen L. Mapp.
Content provided by Panorama Education & PowerMyLearning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Superintendent, Coeur d'Alene Public Schools
Coeur D'Alene, Idaho
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
Director of Headstart
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools
Director of Headstart
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools
Supervising Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Weston, Florida, United States
Camelot Education

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Boy, 15, Injured in Arkansas School Shooting; Classmate Held
A 15-year-old boy shot and seriously injured a fellow student Monday morning at an Arkansas junior high school, authorities said.
1 min read
Traffic is lined up March 1, 2021 outside Watson Chapel Junior High School in Pine Bluff, Ark. as parents pick up students after a shooting at the school.
Traffic is lined up March 1, 2021 outside Watson Chapel Junior High School in Pine Bluff, Ark. as parents pick up students after a shooting at the school.
Staton Breidenthal/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP
School Climate & Safety Interactive School Shootings This Year: How Many and Where
Education Week is tracking shootings in K-12 schools in 2021. See the number of incidents and where they occurred in our map and data table.
3 min read
Sign indicating school zone.
iStock/Getty
School Climate & Safety When Toxic Positivity Seeps Into Schools, Here's What Educators Can Do
Papering over legitimate, negative feelings with phrases like "look on the bright side" can be harmful for teachers and students.
6 min read
Image shows the Mr. Yuck emoji with his tongue out in response to bubbles of positive sayings all around him.
Gina Tomko/Education Week + Ingram Publishing/Getty
School Climate & Safety Opinion Teaching's 'New Normal'? There's Nothing Normal About the Constant Threat of Death
As the bizarre becomes ordinary, don't forget what's at stake for America's teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Justin Minkel.
4 min read
14Minkel IMG
Gremlin/E+