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Cablegate: Goj Rapidly Preparing Schools for Iraqi Student

VZCZCXRO6096
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHAM #3369/01 2211432
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091432Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9862
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 003369

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA AND PRM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREF PHUM SOCI EAID IZ JO
SUBJECT: GOJ RAPIDLY PREPARING SCHOOLS FOR IRAQI STUDENT
ENROLLMENT

REF: AMMAN 3352

1. (U) SUMMARY: The Ministry of Education (MoE) sent a
letter to all public school principals on August 6
instructing them to allow Iraqi students to register in
public and private schools regardless of residence status for
the 2007-08 school term. Major Jordanian daily newspapers
prominently reported the decision and the MoE's efforts to
implement the GOJ's decision. The GOJ is now moving rapidly
to prepare its public schools for the enrollment of Iraqi
schoolchildren. MoE officials agreed to double-shift schools
and begin site visits to select schools this week. UNHCR
and the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation
(MOPIC) are finalizing an agreement this week to transfer $10
million to the GOJ to offset costs associated with the influx
of Iraqi students. END SUMMARY.

GETTING THE WORD OUT
--------------------

2. (U) The Ministry of Education sent a letter to all public
and private school principals on August 6 informing them of
the Cabinet's August 5 decision to waive residency
requirements for Iraqi schoolchildren and instructing them to
enroll Iraqis who register at their schools.

3. (U) UNICEF and local NGOs have divided up responsibility
in efforts to mobilize Iraqi families to register their
children. Save the Children has taken the lead on such
efforts.

4. (U) Major Jordanian daily newspapers extensively covered
the decision to allow Iraqi children into public schools on
August 7. Front page stories ran on the English-language
Jordan Times as well as the Arabic dailies Al Rai, Al
Dustour, and Al Arab Al Youm. All referenced the GOJ figure
of 50,000 Iraqi students entering Jordanian public schools
and discussed the $129 million UNHCR education appeal, though
most neglected to mention UNICEF's co-sponsorship. Managing
Director of General Education and Student Affairs Mohammad
Okour was quoted as advising Iraqi families to "Immediately
report to public schools and register their children, ready
with the necessary official documents such as birth
certificates and school certificates." Media reports claim
that the GOJ estimates its average annual per pupil cost for
students enrolled in basic, secondary or vocational schools
is approximately JD 1,000.

DOUBLE-SHIFTING GOJ SCHOOLS
---------------------------

5. (SBU) MOPIC and UNHCR are finalizing an agreement they
expect to sign by August 9 to transfer $10 million to the GOJ
to offset costs associated increase Iraqi enrollments. Based
on a draft budget provide by UNHCR, the $10 million would be
spent during the period between August and December 2007 as
follows:

--Teacher and administrative staff salaries $4.32 million
--Minor refurbishment of double-shifted schools $3 million
--Contingency (supplies, furniture, equipment)$2.25 million
--School operational and maintenance costs $.43 million

6. (SBU) Emboff, UNHCR, UNICEF and Save the Children met with
MFA, MOPIC and MoE officials on August 6 and 7 to
operationalize this GOJ decision. During the August 6
meeting, one mid-level MoE official expressed hesitancy on
making decisions on behalf of his ministry. Nawaf At-Tal,
Director of the MFA's Negotiations Bureau, immediately called
the Ministry of Education Secretary General and scheduled a
follow-on meeting for August 7 with all relevant MoE section
heads.

7. (U) On August 7, Ministry of Education officials reviewed
a list of 43 schools proposed by USAID for potential
double-shifting and agreed to conduct site visits as early as
August 9; a USAID contractor identified an additional 40
schools - raising the number of schools under consideration
to 83. The MoE Secretary General responsible for finance and
administration appointed two MoE engineers and planners from
two education directorates in Amman to assist in prioritizing
the current list of schools for double shifting. They expect
to complete site visits by the middle of next week and will
then rank the schools in order of suitability. Senior
management in the MoE will determine the appropriate number
of schools to be double-shifted. USAID is preparing a
questionnaire and providing a technical expert to join MoE
officials on site visits.


AMMAN 00003369 002 OF 002


SCHOOL SUPPLIES, TEACHERS, AND FEES
-----------------------------------

8. (U) Iraqi children who enroll in public schools will be
required to pay the regular school fees for foreign students:
40 JD per annum for basic school (grades 1-10) and 60 JD for
secondary school (grades 11-12) in addition to textbook
costs. UNHCR is working to determine a process to assist the
neediest families to prevent the costs from becoming
prohibitive.

9. (U) GOJ, UNHCR and UNICEF officials estimated that 2,550
new teachers and staff members will need to be hired at a
cost of approximately $5 million to meet the additional
inflow of Iraqi students. These numbers were incorporated
into UNHCR's draft budget.

RENTAL SCHOOLS
--------------

10. (U) MoE officials estimate that the process of renting
schools would require one to two months. MoE officials told
Emboff that no suitable facilities exist in current
government buildings (e.g. ministries or universities) that
could be converted into temporary classrooms. For the
moment, the MoE is focusing almost exclusively on the
double-shift in preparation for the August 19 start date.

11. (SBU) UNICEF Emergency Coordinator Jon Cunliffe told
Emboffs that he met with MoE supply and procurement managing
director Maher Al Sabbagh on August 7 to discuss equipping
schools for the additional influx of schoolchildren. Al
Sabbagh commented that rented buildings will need to be
equipped and furnished from top to bottom, which could raise
the cost of the school rental process significantly. He also
warned that the competitive tendering processed may result in
additional delays in readiness. UNICEF and MoE agreed to
purchase supplies in phases, ordering no more than 10,000 of
each item during the first wave of purchasing to avoid large
stocks in warehouses and tying up UNICEF's financial
resources. Al Sabbagh noted that the MoE presently maintains
a small reserve of school furniture, supplies, and textbooks.
Hale

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