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Mosul strives to revive damaged Mosul University, schools

Displaced Iraqi children, who fled Mosul due to the ongoing fighting between government forces and Daesh Takfiri terrorists, walk at the Hammam al-Alil camp, south of Mosul, on April 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Officials in the liberated eastern part of the Iraqi city of Mosul are having a hard time restarting the education system, as many of its finest assets have been destroyed by the Daesh terror group over the past three years.

With sporadic fighting still a common theme of daily life, education officials in east Mosul have barely reopened schools, most of which have been shut since Daesh overran the city in June 2014.

Upon their arrival, the Takfiris also closed the Mosul University and inflicted heavy damage to it, particularly when they were forced to retreat in the face of the advancing Iraqi army. Workers are currently erecting a makeshift wall around the campus to prepare it for a new life.

The university, the second largest in Iraq after the Baghdad University, used to possess one of the greatest Middle Eastern libraries. It contained a rich collection of ancient texts underscoring the origins of civilization in this region, including many records of the history of Islam. Many of the invaluable books, documents and manuscripts were burnt to ashes by terrorists as they were fleeing the area in the past few months.

The United Nations described the attack on the Mosul University as “one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history.”

“I have many souvenirs here in the University of Mosul and many memories, so when I see that, I will be so sad,” said Mohammed, a former law student at the university, who stayed in the militant-held city during Daesh’s reign of terror. He, however, could do nothing when he witnessed the damage inflicted to his beloved half-a-century-old university.

This file photo shows an entrance to the Mosul University.

Large parts of the university buildings have been turned into rubble, but Mosul University President Obay al-Dewachi announced in early March that he had approved a plan to reopen the university soon, bringing rays of hope in the hearts of would-be students.

Schools are also to be reopened soon, though most of them have been partially or totally destroyed, with a large population of children in the ill-fated city not receiving any formal education.

“Education is very important in Mosul. A wise British man once said, 'tell me the state of education and the law and I will tell you the state of Britain.' And for us, the most important thing is education. Building the education system means building up civil society,” said Raed Ismael Ali, an official of the Nineveh Education Board.

The violence has taken its toll on children, with many showing symptoms of anxiety disorders in their behavior. It takes time to get these children back to school, at least as a way to help them forget the horrified memories of the occupation days.

Iraqi army soldiers and pro-movement fighters have made sweeping gains against Takfiri elements since launching the operation to retake Mosul last October.

The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.

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