Iraq Baghdad University’s Kurdish Departments Face Threat of Closure

1212By Nawzad Mahmoud for Rudaw Media Network

A lack of professors in the Kurdish Department of Baghdad University means Kurdish studies are disappearing in Iraq, MPs and lecturers have warned.

Baghdad University was the first to open Kurdish language departments in Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region. “The good news is that Baghdad University’s Kurdish departments will enroll students next year,” said Farhad Qadir, member of the Iraqi parliament’s higher education committee.

“Kurdish departments didn’t enroll students [this year] due to the lack of requisite academics in this field. But we have now managed to secure an agreement that will allow them to enroll students next year and fix their shortages,” he added.

Two Kurdish language lecturers are currently on a visit to the Kurdistan Region to “convince local academics with a Master’s or PhD in Kurdish to go and teach the language in Baghdad,” Qadir said, pointing out that Kurdish departments in Baghdad have a shortage of Master’s and PhD holders.

“Not appointing Kurdish language lecturers is a big problem and heads of Kurdish departments are not putting pressure on the government to appoint lecturers for them,” a Kurdish language lecturer told Rudaw on condition of anonymity.

People are not willing to move to Baghdad to teach Kurdish there, he explained. “Moreover, the Iraqi government is not appointing Kurdish language graduates. If the situation continues this way, there won’t be any students left in these departments.”

Kurdish language studies in Baghdad suffered after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi initiated some changes and reshuffled federal government departments nearly two years ago. One of the changes he made was the removal of the head of Kurdish studies in Baghdad, Hussein Jaf.

Jaf is currently a lecturer in Baghdad University’s Education Faculty, Kurdish Department.

If the Kurdistan Region places any importance on the availability of Kurdish studies in Baghdad, then it should send lecturers to Kurdish departments there, a former education committee member in the Iraqi parliament, Burhan Faraj, noted.

He thinks that there are currently no Kurdish schools in Baghdad. “There are Kurdish classes taken in Baghdad schools, rather than Kurdish schools in the city,” he said, adding, “We suggested that Anfal and Halabja be studied in Baghdad and other cities so that Arab children have an understanding of the past, too. These classes were approved. But currently the bigger problem is the lack of teachers.”

Anfal and Halabja are two genocide campaigns carried out by previous Iraqi governments against the Kurdish population in the country.

“The higher education minister has promised to appoint the top three graduates of both Kurdish departments next year to undergo preparation for Master’s programs. He has also promised to appoint two more lecturers for Baghdad University’s Kurdish departments next month,” Qadir detailed.

There are more than 450 students in the Kurdish department of the faculty of education at Baghdad University, and nearly 100 in its faculty of languages.

“Not every one of these students is Kurdish. Some of them are Arabs who study Kurdish,” Qadir said.

Rudaw tried to contact the current head of Kurdish studies in Baghdad, but he was unavailable for comment.

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