Iraq has signed agreements with two Chinese companies to build 1,000 schools in the country in the space of two years, an Iraqi government official said.
Despite being rich in oil, Iraq has suffered for decades from crumbling infrastructure because of successive wars and endemic corruption.
Construction of the schools is due to be completed in two years, with the first delivered a year after work begins “very soon”, Mejaham said.
Oil to Pay for Construction
He said that Iraq would pay for the project using oil products.
A second phase will see the construction of an additional 3,000 schools, with 4,000 more to be built in a final phase.
“Decades of conflict and under-investment in Iraq have destroyed what used to be the best education system in the region,” UNICEF said on its website, adding that “one in every two schools is damaged and needs rehabilitation”.
In the country of 40 million people, “there are close to 3.2 million school-aged Iraqi children out of school”, it said.
The deal is a welcome postscript to the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, in which more than 7,000 schoolrooms collapsed due to poor construction. Between 5,000 and 10,000 pupils died in the quake and more than 15,000 were injured.
- AFP with additional editing by George Russell