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Cablegate: Diyala Prt: Education System Update

VZCZCXRO4468
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3726/01 3170848
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130848Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4314
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003726

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PTER ECON IZ
SUBJECT: DIYALA PRT: EDUCATION SYSTEM UPDATE

1. (U) This is a Diyala PRT reporting cable.

Summary
-------
2. (U) The education system in Diyala continues to face severe
challenges. Pre-OIF infrastructure shortcomings combined with the
effects of recent kinetic activity in the province and general
neglect have left only a skeleton of a school system in place. The
PRT, other Coalition Force (CF) units, a dedicated Provincial
Director General of Education (PDGE), Jaafar Maan Faris, and an
enthusiastic Provincial Council Education Committee (PCEC) are
coordinating closely to de-conflict efforts to repair and supply
schools throughout the province. The office of the PDGE is unable
to ascertain the extent of recent damage or current needs. The
inability to provide even basic data highlights the severity of the
crisis. PRT efforts to work with the PDGE and the PCEC and CF units
in repairing schools have been successful but the job is far from
done. Lack of security is a major consideration impairing the
improvement of the education system in Diyala. End Summary.

Best Statistics Available
-------------------------
3. (U) Reports published in an Iraqi newspaper in September 2006
provide the most current picture of Diyala's education system. In
2006, there were reportedly 354,000 students attending 1,125
schools. The student population encompassed 31 kindergartens, 767
primary schools, 307 intermediate and secondary schools,
(18)vocational training schools, and two teacher training institutes
(one male, one female). In recent meetings with the PRT, neither
PDGE Jaafar nor the PCEC were able to venture a guess as to how many
students are in the province today. The number of schools operating
and the number of teachers is similarly unclear, but the PDGE is
focused on ascertaining the student population and the condition of
all schools as well as getting a full inventory of the teaching
staff before the end of November.

4. (U) There has been significant destruction of schools and
considerable population shift due to the ebb and flow of operations
since the last data were compiled. Estimates of Internally Displaced
Persons (IDP) vary but are a factor the PDGE expects will impact the
numbers. Directives have been sent throughout the province
instructing schoolmasters to accept any student regardless of
origin, but no numbers of IDPs enrolled in school have been compiled
to date.

High Hurdles On The Road Ahead
------------------------------
5. (U) It is estimated that the majority of schools in Diyala
Province are in desperate need of rehabilitation or at the least
emergency repairs. The results of security actions are such that
that many schools are damaged beyond repair, and need to be
completely rebuilt. The teaching staff reports a constant need for
new textbooks and supplies. There is an uneven distribution of
textbooks and supplies due to the security situation in different
parts of the province. The normal number of teachers for a single
school is 16. The PDGE relates that because of the lack of freedom
of safe movement he has some schools with as few as four teachers
and other schools reporting as many as 40 teachers present.
Administrative and custodial staff numbers are similarly skewed
throughout the parts of the province that are reporting. Many
schools are not reporting at all. The PDGE emphatically states that
establishing security is critical, and only when teachers are free
to move safely through the province to work at their assigned place
of duty will the education system be able to able to really start
reconstruction.

6. (U) In the city of Buhriz, the primary school is a good example
of a school in dire need of reconstruction assistance. The school
was open when a recent U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team visited, but all
the windows and doors had previously been blown out as a result of
CF activity that destroyed a house across the street from the
school. That is a typical example of the problems that are faced
here daily. The school's restrooms were inoperable, with excrement
on the floors and no running water. With the help of a provincial
council member whose district is Buhriz, emergency repairs were made
for less than $10,000.00. Windows, doors, and the bathrooms were
repaired, and the school painted. In a small way this case depicts
the issues facing the system today. The students are in school, but
they need books and new desks. One school may have new books and
supplies, but the windows are gone or the bathrooms are inoperable.
Some schools were completely destroyed this past summer, and others
were occupied by the Iraqi Army, Coalition Forces, or enemy forces.
Last week the deputy PDGE reported that 11 schools are still
occupied by Iraqi Army forces and asked CF support in expelling the
troops.

Beyond Buildings and Books:
Recent PRT Efforts
---------------------------
7. (U) Presently, coordination between PDGE Jaafar, the PCEC, and
the PRT is optimal. The focus of all actions is the information
exchange between the PDGE and the many CF units that are trying to

BAGHDAD 00003726 002 OF 002


renovate schools. The units and the PRT are now passing renovation
project information to PDGE Jaafar so that he knows which schools
are being renovated and can make provisions for contracting repairs
on other schools. The PCEC is involved in distributing donated
school supplies to schools in a fair and equitable manner. Between
the stakeholders there is patchwork of good intentions that is being
worked into a blanket of cohesive coverage.

8. (U) PRT efforts within the last six months have focused on
building a solid relationship with PDGE Jaafar and the PCEC. This
effort came to fruition during the provincial education examination
process. Every day during the exams, a PRT representative met with
PDGE Jaafar and coordinated the exam process with CF, Iraqi Army,
and Iraqi police forces. When PDGE Jaafar was ambushed while en
route to Baghdad delivering exam results, the PRT and CF rendered
aid to his bodyguard who was wounded and later died, and arranged
the return of his body to Baquba. That incident became the catalyst
for increased trust and has made it easier to discuss issues and
resolve problems. The PRT has established goals and a way forward
for the PCEC. The coordination of school rehabilitation has been
the major goal and the one that all involved felt could best be
accomplished.

Comment
-------
9. (SBU) The challenges facing the Educational Directorate of
Diyala Province are daunting. Due to the destruction and
displacement of populations in the last year the provincial schools
are working under extreme stress. The groundwork laid in the last
six to eight months shows great promise. PRT efforts remain focused
on helping PDGE Jaafar to effectively administer his duties.
Continuing PRT efforts are necessary to maintain and improve
coordination with CF units, PDGE Jaafar, and the PCEC. Without a
continued unified effort the provincial education system is at risk
of regressing to an ad hoc firefighting effort that cannot succeed.
The PRT is actively searching for additional support from
educational groups and NGOs to help sustain and enhance the progress
already made, but to date has had little success. End Comment.

CROCKER

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