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WIRE:06/14/2000 05:30:00 ET U.N. says sanctions hit Iraq's schools, children BAGHDAD, June 14 (Reuters) - A senior U.N. official said on Wednesday international economic sanctions were depriving Iraq's schools and forcing children into work instead of education. Anupama Rao Singh, country director for the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), said Iraq, where petrodollar wealth once provided universal primary education, lacked even the basics for teaching. She said children were leaving school in droves to earn money for their families that were suffering under economic sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. "Only 67 per cent of children aged six start going to school...That means that out of every three six-year-olds in Iraq only two are enrolling in school," Rao Singh told Reuters. She said more than 90 percent of six-year olds attended school in the late 1990s, before the imposition of sanctions. School buildings needed urgent attention. Rao Singh estimated that about 55 per cent of schools were unable to deliver good teaching because of dilapidated buildings. According to Iraq's education ministry, 8,000 schools required structural work and 5,000 new schools were needed. Some schools run two or three shifts a day to cope. Rao Singh said lack of water, poor sanitation, substandard equipment and a shortage of teachers had contributed to the rising dropout rate. Teaching standards had declined due to overcrowding, lack of maintenance and shortages of textbooks, stationary and paper. The government used to supply pupils with all their schooling needs but now parents had to boy most equipment. "There has been a massive impoverishment of the Iraqi people and families are finding it increasingly difficult...to meet some of the costs of education," Rao Singh said. MORE MONEY NEEDED FOR EDUCATION Before the sanctions, Iraq used to spend millions of dollars on schooling. In 1988, for instance, the Iraqi government invested around $230 million on education. Under the U.N. oil-for-food programme established to mitigate the impact of sanctions, $23 million has been earmarked for education annually and it must all be spent on goods. Rao Singh said cash was also needed for areas like teacher training. In order to make up some of the shortage, UNICEF is using its own money. "We have since 1997 refurbished or reconstructed 300 schools primarily in Dhiqar (province in southern Iraq), Baghdad and Basra...with at least another 50 planned for this year," Rao Singh said. "On average we spend about $1.5 million every year on eduction (in Iraq)." Rao Singh said money allocated under Iraq's oil-for-food deal with the United Nations was not enough to meet education requirements. The oil programme allows Iraq to sell oil over six months on a renewable basis to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian needs. UNICEF and other aid groups are trying to stem the drain of children from schools, helping to finance work on dilapidated buildings and supplying new text books and equipment. ===== Iraq Resource Information Site http://www.geocities.com/iraqinfo American Intifada http://www.egroups.com/group/American_Intifada Go to http://www.getpaid4.com/cgi-bin/emailpanel.cgi?userid=782644 to receive FREE newsletters via email! __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Send instant messages with Yahoo! Messenger. http://im.yahoo.com/ -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi