Schools and universities across Iraq will reserve seats for students of repatriating Iraqi families and assist with their reintegration, the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration announced.
According to Deputy Minister Asghar al-Musawi, the endeavour comes as part of a contingency plan adopted by the ministry three months ago to alleviate the hardships experienced by Iraqis displaced from countries currently witnessing political turmoil and unrest, such as Yemen, Syria and Libya.
"We are currently working to facilitate the return of students to school and to provide all the necessary circumstances and a suitable atmosphere that enables those students to resume their studies and sit for exams in a normal way with their peers," al-Musawi told mawtani.com.
Ministry statistics reveal that the number of repatriating families increased significantly in the beginning of 2011 as compared to the year before, with more than 6,000 families returning per month. In 2010, the monthly average did not exceed 2,000 families.
From January 2010 to the end of May 2011, about 104,000 families have returned to Iraq.
Al-Musawi said the growing repatriation rate was due to various factors, "the most important of which is the security stability that all areas across the country are now witnessing".
He also pointed to the ministry's "integration programs", which provide returning families and citizens with financial assistance among other benefits.
Samir al-Nahi, director of the ministry's humanitarian affairs department, said they are working in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to overcome any obstacles hindering returning students' integration into Iraqi schools and universities.
"For the time being, we are trying to exempt those students from a requirement to provide the necessary academic documents and transcripts to resume their studies until they have a chance to get these documents from the educational institutions in the countries where they were residing," al-Nahi said..
Ministry of Education spokesperson Waleed Hussain confirmed that there are no restrictions that would prevent returning students from joining school.
"Every returning student has the right to join school after submitting a simple piece of evidence, such as an identity card showing his or her school stage," he said.
Ministry of Education officials plan to contact Iraqi embassies in the countries where the students were residing to obtain school documents.
In addition, the Ministry of Higher Education announced its decision on June 5th to integrate repatriating medical students -- under certain controls and instructions -- into Iraqi university programmes, such as the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Dentistry and the Faculty of Pharmacy.
The medical students will have to pass a comprehensive exam in their field after agreeing to submit the required academic documents and records within a timeframe set by the ministry.
Khamees al-Dulaimi, director-general of the studies, planning and follow-up department within the ministry, said his ministry will work in co-operation with the Ministry of Health and other relevant entities "to support the medical group faculties in Iraq, both technically and financially, with the aim of raising their seating capacity for students and securing their needs for teaching staff members."