10/19/2017

Education in Iraq(1)

On the occasion of the start of the new academic year 2017/2018 on 27/9/2017, this is some information about education in Iraq:-

•The education system in Iraq was established in 1921 and in early 1970, education became public and free at all levels. The Interim Constitution of 1970 states that (the State guarantees the right to
free education at all levels - primary, intermediate, secondary and university) .

•Education in Iraq is compulsory until the completion of primary school.

•In 1978, the State launched a comprehensive campaign to eliminate compulsory illiteracy, which included the ages of 15-45 years. As a result of this campaign, the illiteracy rate in this age group dropped from 48% in 1978 to 9.19% in 1987.

•According to the report of UNESCO, Iraq in the pre-Gulf War in 1991 had a system of education is one of the best education systems in the region.

・The deterioration of education after the second Gulf war in 1991 and the imposition of a comprehensive blockade on Iraq for 13 years, where indicators indicate the high rate of illiteracy gradually and the increase in the dropout rate of schools as a result of the deterioration of the economic situation of citizens as well as the deterioration of the quality of education.

(To be continued)

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Bassim Yousif
Baghdad/ Iraq


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October 19, 2017 in Iraq |

08/30/2017

Monthly “ SHIOKAZE KITCHEN“ in Miyako city, Iwate prefecture

JEN continues to support “SHIOKAZE KITCHEN” which we featured in our newsletter last March. Miyako Council of Social Welfare in Iwate prefecture organizes the kitchen.

One of seven children in Japan now lives in poverty. Single parent families are particularly affected with 50% of them living in poverty..

“SHIOKAZE KITCHEN” is now an important community place. Allowing children to still follow their dreams and helping parents to share their problems.

Every month, single parent families, volunteers and staff from Miyako Council of Social Welfare get together, prepare meals, eat and enjoy their time together. 

This activity happens every month.  In August, we had an outdoor BBQ party as a special event requested by the children.

Unfortunately it was a rainy day, despite this everyone had a great time.

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[People preparing rice balls for BBQ]

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[BBQ started!]

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[After the BBQ, we enjoyed fireworks]

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[No one wanted the party to end!]

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August 30, 2017 in Tohoku Earthquake |

08/27/2017

Ratnapura flood emergency assistance completed

On August 27, JEN completed the distribution of shelter emergency kits to 150 households in the 13 districts. We would like to thank you once again for your continued support.

This is a report on the distribution of the tent reinforcing materials JEN has provided in a camp in the Wanniyawaththa GN Division, Nivithigala DS, Ratnapura District.

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[A JEN staff member (center) explains about the distribution during a brief sunny spell]

Temporarily shelters were installed and people affected by the flood resumed their daily lives.

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[A steep mountain path on which one of the JEN team managed to sprain her ankle]

Unlike the material JEN has distributed can withstand heavy rain, so people can settle down and have a roof over their heads until their houses are rebuilt.

Even while we were providing this assistance, the news of extensive floods and mudslides came in one after another from India, Nepal, Sierra Leone and elsewhere.

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August 27, 2017 in Sri Lanka |

08/15/2017

[Ratnapura] After the flood -temporary shelter materials delivered and the handover ceremony held

The project to distribute temporary shelter materials was made possible with the support of our donors and Japan Platform (JPF). JEN would like to express our sincere thanks to everyone who donated to this project.

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The temporary shelter materials were delivered. (Click here for the article on the procurement of materials)

On August 11, the handover ceremony was held, attended by Mr. Sato, second secretary, Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka and the head of the Nivithigala County in the Ratnapura District.

The Loca Deniva Elementary School, where the ceremony was held, has been the shelter for 14 families for two weeks since the huge landslide on May 26. The ceremony hosted a large number of people, including the victims, residents of the community that had housed them and the local media.

The residents who planned the ceremony entertained everyone with music and dancing.  They also cooked special food, similar to the food they would prepare for a wedding celebration.

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[Students performing a traditional dance]

After the ceremony, we distributed our materials to the families.
Temporary shelter materials were distributed to 120 families in a total of 14 districts and tent reinforcing materials to 30 families in one district.

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[Distribution of materials; many young volunteers participated]

More heavy rain fell in the area but the local people were able to be dry in their temporary housing.
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[Heavy rain again]

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August 15, 2017 in Sri Lanka |

08/10/2017

[Ratnapura] After the floods - procurement of temporary shelter materials begins

JEN started procuring temporary shelter materials to distribute to flood victims.

Our logistics officers analyzed the price and quality of the various materials and services on offer and decided that it would be best to buy the materials in the Colombo District, and then transport them up to the Ratnapura District.

The Ratnapura District Administration approved the materials based on JEN’s temporary shelter standards. We negotiated contracts with the different suppliers.

It was a challenge to procure the materials within the budget and to arrange for safe delivery to schedule.

The manufacturers usually deal with construction companies who purchase in bulk, so our negotiations for relatively small quantities were difficult.

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However, after skillful negotiations by our experienced logistics officers JEN was able to buy the materials we wanted at a price within budget.

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[A JEN team member negotiating at a galvanized plate supplier]

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[A JEN team member negotiating at a tool supplier]

The materials we purchased were then transported to the Ratnapura District.

The Ratnapura District is approximately 50 miles away from the Colombo District, and is usually a three hour drive by car.

However, with the onset of the rainy season landslides frequently occur making road conditions difficult and the journey longer.

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[A truck stuck in the mud and being towed]

Each district decided where they wanted the materials delivered and then the local community, who were the beneficiaries, unloaded them.

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[Unloading in progress]

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August 10, 2017 in Sri Lanka |

08/03/2017

Liberation of Mosul, and…

Since 2014 when an armed opposition group took control of the second largest city in Iraq, Mosul, millions of residents have been forced to evacuate to a safer place in the country.

In October 2016 the Iraqi government moved into action to liberate Mosul. In July 2017 Mosul was, at last, liberated from the armed opposition group.

What’s important now?

Reconstruction covers many things. It not only refers to the restoration of the infrastructure which was totally destroyed but also includes encouraging displaced residents to return to Mosul.

Reconstruction requires a certain amount of money. Even though Mosul has received support from the international community it is far from sufficient.

A reconciliation needs to be reached between the so-called general Iraqi society and Mosul residents in order to ensure fairness to all.

【In Mosul】
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Terrorism by the armed opposition group not only resulted in many deaths and physical destruction but the group also tried to destroy the ‘culture’ of  Mosul.

The ‘culture’, ‘society’, ‘politics’ and ‘religious sense’ developed by the armed opposition over the years was carefully designed by its leaders to spread the group’s ideas throughout society. It had the desired effect, influencing the people. 

Now a way to reverse these effects is needed.

To do this, Iraq will need to implement reconstruction projects in cooperation with NGOs, Muslim clerics, intellectuals, thinkers and all other influential figures in the Iraqi society.

We should also not forget about the young people.

【Mosul residents】
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Experts in Iraq will need to enlist the cooperation of experts from other countries in order to conduct psychological and social rehabilitation programs for the young people in Mosul.

Thikra J Elias 
Baghdad, Iraq



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August 3, 2017 in Iraq |

07/31/2017

Listening to the voices of single parent families

This year JEN, with our partner organization, Muse Planning (contents available only in Japanese), gave help to single parents who were affected by the Kumamoto earthquake as part of our assistance activities for victims of the earthquake.


The “Single-Parent Chat and Lunch Meetings” were held in Mashiki Town and Higashi-ku, Kumamoto City in March and April, respectively. In these meetings, single parents took the time to talk to each other about their daily lives. A career counselor ran a workshop to give advice on how to get a job.

The participants really appreciated the meetings as exemplified by their comments:

“I was able to talk about my worries and anxieties and get peace of mind as I now realise that everyone is in the same boat”
“It was good that I could get to hear the stories of various people”
“My heart felt lighter when I met people who had similar problems”
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[The workshop flyer]

Average annual income of single mothers in Kumamoto City has not increased for quite some time and has been stuck at about 1.8 million yen, which is less than half the average wage of the entire Kumamoto Prefecture.

Single fathers earn 2.91 million yen, which is about 70% of the prefecture’s average (according to the Kumamoto prefecture single parent family survey). The earthquake affected areas where already earning a living was not easy.

Kumamoto Prefecture conducted a survey on single parent families in August, four months after the disaster (findings on the conditions of single parent families after Kumamoto earthquake can be found here - contents available only in Japanese).

July 31, 2017 in Kumamoto |

07/18/2017

[Emergency assistance] JEN’s activities for flood victims in the Ratnapura District

JEN provides emergency shelter assistance to residents affected by the monsoon that occurred in southern Sri Lanka in May.
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The Ratnapura District, the target area of our project, is located in the southwest part of the country. The district suffered extensive damage due to repetitive floods and landslides, killing 86 people, completely destroying 860 buildings and partially destroying 7,846.
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Most of the damaged buildings have broken roofs and walls and cracks in their foundations, so are no longer usable.
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JEN is distributing materials to families who have lost their homes and have had to move in with relatives or to evacuation centers. Using these materials families are able to build their own simple shelters in which to live until their homes are rebuilt.
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The Ratnapura District, is famous for jewelry production which is one of Sri Lanka’s major industries. Cat’s-eye and sapphire gemstones can be found in the local rivers and mountains, so people search for gemstones everywhere.
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The district is also rich in produce such as tea, rubber, rambutans and avocados which cannot be cultivated in the north.
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[A rubber tree farm]
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Whilst setting up the office JEN immediately obtained approval for the project and started a preliminary needs assessment. Because many of the affected households live deep in the mountains where access by car is not possible, JEN had to do investigations on foot.
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Once  complete, the distribution of relief goods start.
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[A building destroyed by a landslide]
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[JEN staff interviewing residents]
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[Many of the clay houses are easily damaged by floods]

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July 18, 2017 in Sri Lanka |

07/06/2017

Impressions from Sinjar, Bashiqa and Bahzani

[Sinjar]
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People’s lives in the city of Sinjar and its surroundings are like hell.
JEN was one of the first organizations that began supporting the people of Sinjar after the city was liberated from armed groups.
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When I first visited Sinjar as a staff member of JEN, the people were totally dispirited. Most of the houses and government buildings had been destroyed. To take the first step forward, we began the essential work of repairing wells in the city so that people could have access to drinking water.
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Life in the Sinjar Mountains is more difficult than in the city.  JEN has repeatedly investigated what is essential for the people living there and is providing public water storage tanks which are filled up daily from tanker trucks.
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[Water supply tanker trucks JEN has rented; JEN distributes drinking water to people taking refuge in the mountains]
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[A well being repaired in Sinjar City; installation of a water storage tank and generator]
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[Bashiqa and Bahzani]
Bashiqa and Bahzani Villages, located in eastern Mosul, had been under the armed group’s control for two years.
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JEN provides assistance to people who are returning to their  villages. Although the houses were safe, the rubble caused by the battle was piled up all over the roads so JEN carried out a road and household waste clean-up operation.
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Our activities are much appreciated by the villagers, and the number of returnees is increasing every week.
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JEN’s staff engineers discussing well administration huts, water storage tanks and water supply networks with the director of the Bashiqa Waterworks Bureau and a Nineveh waterworks engineer.
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[The director of the Bashiqa Waterworks Bureau and the Nineveh waterworks engineer have expressed appreciation to JEN]
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[A repaired well near the village of Bashiqa]
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Rebar Ali Mella
JEN Iraq
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July 6, 2017 in Iraq |

06/29/2017

Feast of the moon for Allah: second part

Muslims have meals twice during the Ramadan; they are referred to as Sahari and Iftar.

The meal two hours before sunrise is called Sahari. Since they fast during the daytime, Sahari is important to prevent high blood pressure or dehydration.

Many of the Afghans eat a kind of rice and drink tea to take in high calories.

They worship God after the Sahari. As worshipping before sunrise is considered to be most valuable, they worship longer in order to have a close connection with God

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Muslims stop fasting after sunset and take a meal named Iftar. They wait anxiously for Iftar.
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Following the tradition, they drink juice, milk and water. They prepare delicious dishes and desserts for Iftar.

In particular, Afghans eat kebab, pilaf, rice porridge and traditional soup and drink tea.

After eating, they reflect on the meaning of Ramadan.

Connecting with the society is one of the most important roles of Ramadan.

They enjoy having a good time with their family during Ramadan and they invite relatives, friends, and neighbors for Iftar. Muslims regard guests as friends of God.

After finishing 30 days of fasting, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr. This is an important Muslim holiday in the Islamic world.

In addition, there is another custom to distribute foods among the poor when celebrating Eid al-Fitr. People go to the mosque and pray to God in the early morning, and then they celebrate Eid al-Fitr with family and friends.

Zuhra Afshar
Field Officer
JEN Afghanistan


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June 29, 2017 in Afghanistan |