Iraqi schools continue to deliver high quality PE and school sport despite ongoing political challenges following the implementation of a three-year programme delivered by the British Council with the Youth Sport Trust.
Support to improving the quality of education in Iraq concluded in August 2014, however over 50 teachers from Iraqi Kurdistan have received Youth Sport Trust TOPs training already this year, delivered by a local TOPs trainer.
A core programme of the Youth Sport Trust, TOPs provides access to quality resources and teaching/coaching materials to support the delivery of high quality and inclusive PE and sport experiences for all young people.
Additionally, liaison continues between two of the five UK schools that hosted a delegation of Iraqi school leaders in 2013.
King Edward VI School in Suffolk continues to work with Kurdish Iraqi schools in Sulamanyia, providing video resources filmed in UK schools and translated into Arabic, to further support and train teachers.
Despite ongoing political struggles in the country, these UK school representatives continue to support the development of sport in education on the back of the EU-funded programme which funded training, mentoring and support for Iraqi schools. The project focussed on the quality and availability of PE and school sport and the impact that high quality provision can have on whole school development, young people's achievement and self-confidence, and the contribution this can make to national building.
Under the original programme, a network of 50 Iraqi schools partnered with five specialist sport colleges in the UK.
- Pupils in the Iraqi schools received leadership training, which they have put into practice delivering PE to pupils in their local primary schools.
- Teachers have received resources and training in new ways of teaching PE, using more active techniques and different pedagogical approaches.
- Teachers have used sport cross-curricular in mathematics, science and other subjects and have developed new teaching materials.
- The Iraqi schools have held meetings with parents and members of the local community highlighting the valuable role that PE and sport can play in young people's development.
The impact has been significant with one school reporting that prior to these meetings many girls did not participate in PE, now 100 percent of students are involved.
King Edward VI School Assistant Headteacher Rob Waldensaid: "We are working as closely as we can with key individuals in the Sulaymania region, and with Real World Education to help create sustainability after the official EU funding finished. This is very challenging but credit to Kurdish PE advisor, Dara Qadr and his team on the ground who have worked tirelessly to continue training teachers in order to empower the next generation of young people.
"The sporting focus is on leadership skills and building relationships within communities - something the region is desperately in need of. Sports festivals have an amazing way of transcending politics and religion and the staff there are doing their best to ensure there is a real legacy from the project."
Youth Sport Trust Chair Baroness Sue Campbell said: "Education development in Iraq has been hampered by a range of factors including politics and security, poor resources and infrastructure and teacher emigration. The lack of facilities and pressure on curriculum time led to many schools dropping or severely limiting PE and sport.
"The perseverance of those involved to continue this training demonstrates its value and impact. We have so much to learn from them despite the challenges they face every day, and I thank them for their ongoing commitment to PE and school sport."
British Council Head of Society Andy Hansensaid: "Sport has the ability to unlock access to education, in turn helping to meet the aspirations of young people the world over. This programme has proven that, despite the huge challenges that Iraq faces, teachers and pupils alike recognise the unique power of sport to deliver educational impact in schools.
"It is to the huge credit of schools on both sides of the partnership that they continue to seeks ways in which to collaborate on the delivery of high quality meaningful PE and sport in their schools."