By ke Scheck
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 20, 2009 - Three new schools that provide new classroom space for nearly 2,500 children in northern Iraq were completed here recently, thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies celebrating the opening of the new schools were held at the Bin Beriz and Hassarok schools in Irbil and the Saraway Khwarw Secondary School in rural Sulaimaniyah.
"These schools are serving multiple villages in the area and stand as cornerstones of the residents' commitment to education in their communities," said Gary York, resident engineer for the Gulf Region Division's Irbil Resident Office. "These projects are yet another successful partnership between the [local government] and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and one that makes us both extremely proud." The U.S. government's Economic Support Fund provided funding for all three school projects.
Amenities for the Bin Beriz School include classroom space for 600 students, an administrative area, staff housing for teachers, a deep fresh-water well, a backup generator and school furnishings. The $975,000 project, constructed by the AKO Co., also included money for desks, library tables and some of the office furniture.
The new Hassarok School, a $1.9 million project, has 19 classrooms, science laboratories, a cafeteria, a separate administration building, a generator facility and sports hall.
The 12-room Saraway Khwarw Secondary School – a two-year, $960,000 project -- was built to accommodate more than 960 students and will greatly enhance the educational process, government officials said. The school's amenities include six classrooms, three teacher offices, two science laboratories, a computer lab and an outdoor sports area. School officials plan to hire 24 teachers and 14 staff members.
"This was a great project only made possible with outstanding partnership efforts from [the Gulf Region Division's North district] engineers and staff, the local mayor's office, the contractor, and officials from Sulaimaniyah province," said Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Engel, the Kirkuk Resident Office noncommissioned officer in charge.
The Corps of Engineers has completed more than 4,500 projects in Iraq, valued at nearly $7 billion. Almost a quarter of those are schools and educational facilities for the Iraqi people. With more than 1,100 schools completed, hundreds of thousands of students now learn in modern facilities that meet international health and safety standards.
(Mike Scheck is the public affairs officer for the Gulf Region North district, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Iraq.)