FALLUJANS SEARCH FOR SCHOOL BOOKS UNDER RUBBLE
- Fallujans Search For School Books Under Rubble
February 13, 2005
A file photo of a US soldier having lunch over school debris in
FALLUJAH, February 13 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) Three
months after the western Iraqi city of Fallujah was pounded to
rubble by US warplanes, teachers and schoolchildren are
unremittingly gearing up for the resumption of classes.
Bullet-scarred blackboards, dog-eared, half-burnt textbooks, and
volunteers will do in a city that became a ghost down in the broad
sense of the word, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on Sunday,
"All the furniture has been destroyed, most of the supplies, books
and stationery as well," said headmaster Shalal Saddah Haraj, giving
a tour of the school's only structure still standing in the middle
of a field of rubble and mangled metal.
"There is not one single window on this building," he lamented.
The education ministry announced that teaching should resume on
February 5, but many of the schools have been destroyed in the
November US-led offensive [
and thousands of residents have yet to return to the devastated city.
"When my family and I came back to Fallujah, we found our house
burnt, the houses around it and the school destroyed," said Hadil
Khaled, a nine-year-old girl.
"I have been moved to another school, but all the books there were
stolen. How am I going to study?"
A meager $100 for each family has been pledged by interim Prime
Minister Iyad Allawi in the aftermath of the US raid.
Distraught Fallujans rejected government cash, saying no money can
make up for the loss of loved ones and destruction of their homes.
Few schoolchildren have shown up so far and many teachers are also
"Most of my teachers are not back. I don't know where they are, I
don't even know if they are still alive," said Liqaa Shaker, the
headmistress of the Aisha school as she was sitting in her crumbling
"I've had their salaries with me for months, but they haven't
collected them," she added.
Most of the 250,000-strong population of Fallujah fled the city
before the launch on November 8 of what was the largest military
offensive in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion-turned-occupation.
After staying with relatives or being encamped in Baghdad and
neighboring villages, some families have started trickling back into
the city, often to find their homes have been leveled or looted.
Shaker lamented that teaching would have to resume with less than
half of the staff and virtually no equipment.
"I don't have enough books for my own students, but now three other
schools are being merged into mine because the others were
Teacher Maysun Hawas will have to write around the bullet holes
dotting her blackboard.
"To catch up on the curriculum, we will have to study through the
summer, when other provinces will have finished the school year. But
for the moment we have no electricity and water," [
Hawas told AFP.
Volunteers and officials were busy shoveling bricks into a
wheelbarrow in what used to be the Dhat Al-Salasil school's storage
"Be careful, don't come here, the roof could collapse," said an
exhausted municipal employee.