By Army Pfc. Lyndsey Dransfield
Special to American Forces Press Service
Aug. 6, 2008 - For five years, U.S. soldiers have built and refurbished schools in Iraq and have supplied them with better resources with hopes of providing a better education for Iraqi children. Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's Company A, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, visited two schools July 31 to check the progress of the Qadasiya Primary School and the Sadiq Secondary School in Tarmiyah, northwest of Baghdad.
Construction on both schools began in June.
Since the liberation of Iraq, the population of Tarmiyah has grown. People from Baghdad flocked to the area looking for a safer place to live. Because of the flux of people, many schools are overcrowded.
Other schools in the area run two shifts daily while trying to provide education for as many students as possible, with each class consisting of up to 60 students. To help redistribute the growing number of students, more schools were needed.
The Sadiq Secondary School had fallen into disrepair, and the Qadasiya Primary School was only a shell that was being built when funds were cut short due to al-Qaida in Iraq obtaining a strong hold over the city in 2006 and 2007.
The current projects have been funded by the Commanders' Emergency Relief Program, and Multinational Division Baghdad is working with the Iraqi Education Ministry to complete the projects before the beginning of the school year in September.
The contractors have made significant progress during the past month. When the work is completed, both schools will have working septic tanks, new pipes, renovated bathrooms, new paint, new doors and supplies.
"There is a huge difference from how it was before," Tofek Sermon, headmaster of the Sadiq school, said. "It's still not perfect, but it is an improvement for the students."
Upon completion, each school will provide room for up to 600 students to learn.
"Once this [Qadasiya] school is finished, we will be able to cut classes down by half the amount of students and provide better education for the children," said Abib al Hamed Majed Mehsen, a member of the Education Ministry committee.
Army 1st Lt. Erik Peterson, a native of Littleton, Colo., who is a staff officer with Headquarters Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, works hard to ensure these projects are approved and completed.
"Education is so important," he said. "It prevents ignorance, which I believe is what we are fighting against. These children need to learn languages, history and math, so that in the future they can provide a positive impact for this country."
(Army Pfc. Lyndsey Dransfield serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.)