By A. Al Bahrani
Special to American Forces Press Service
Sept. 2, 2009 - Children here are getting an opportunity most of their parents never had, as they plan to move into a new school later this year as part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project. "Most of the people in this area missed the opportunity to go to school and learn as children. We want our children to have a better-educated future," said Ali Jalab Hasson, Hamza district mayor and civil engineer with the Qadisiyah education department.
That dream of a better education is just months away, as the Corps' Gulf Region Division helps with the construction of the Al Hasan Al Basri school. The $1.1 million project is being managed by the Division's Gulf Region South district and constructed using funds from its emergency support fund.
"The Al Hasan Al Basri modern, two-story facility will be the source of pride for al Hamza residents," Hasson said. "All the people here wish to provide a good education for their children and that is what this school is going to do."
The school project in Qadisiyah province will improve the quality of education for more than 800 students.
"Most of the schools here are old and in need of windows, doors and bathroom repairs," Hasson said. "When completed, this school will be the first modern facility since 2003 in the area that meets international health and safety standards."
Amjad Khnteel, the project engineer, said the new school will feature many amenities. It will have 12 classrooms, an administrative area, a library, a potable water system, a communication system with Internet capabilities and a fire alarm system, he said.
Khnteel also said the project will benefit the local community. "About 25 Iraqis are currently working on this project, which helps create much-needed opportunities for employment of the local populace and enhance the economic situation of al Hamza district and surrounding communities," Khnteel said.
The school also will provide permanent jobs for Iraqis when it is completed.
"Approximately 20 local Iraqis, including headmaster, teachers, administrative assistants and guards will work at the new facility when it's open by end of this year," Hasson added. "That number is expected to grow once it's fully operational."
The school construction project is 15 percent complete and expected to be completed in December.
The Gulf Region Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq, has completed thousands of reconstruction projects in partnership with the U.S. and Iraqi governments. Since 2004, the division has completed 4,626 projects throughout Iraq valued at more than $7.2 billion, and has 287 projects ongoing.
(A. Al Bahrani works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Gulf Region South public affairs office.)