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Education for all

Five bloggers, five countries, one dialogue

A notice to our readers

Our blogger from Iraq, Hellgurd, has received severe threats in response to his blog entries.
In an effort to protect the author’s safety, DW has decided not to publish further posts from him in this blog.

Date

June 21, 2012 | 3:33 pm

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Does less knowledge mean more comfort?

Mobile phones - literacy not required...

The recent history of education in Iraq is full of ups and downs, and illiteracy, especially for women, remains a problem.

I’d like to imagine seeing life and the world like through the eyes of an uneducated person. But I think this is much harder than imagining it through a genius’ eyes. I know so many uneducated people – the only thing they can read and understand is the clock. I wonder how they can use mobile phones…? They can use their contacts to dial, and they seem to know who is calling them! Maybe after lots of mistakes, they just figure out how to use their phones. In fact, it could even be a kind of adventure for them!

Date

June 15, 2012 | 6:45 am

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An interview with conductor Paul MacAlindin

Picture: Hellgurd Ahmed

Conductor Paul MacAlindin and a soloist

As I promised in my last entry, I did an interview over the Internet with NYOI’s musical director Paul MacAlindin, from Scotland and now living in Cologne, Germany.

- Mr. MacAlindin, how has the NYOI’s music improved academically since the orchestra’s founding?

Date

June 9, 2012 | 6:00 pm

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Green leaves in autumn

Picture: Hellgurd Ahmed

Rehearsing with the NYOI at the Beethovenfest in Bonn

After the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq was founded by 17-year-old female Iraqi pianist Zuhal Sultan in 2009, we saw much better progress among Iraq’s young musicians. Every year the Orchestra has its own courses in the summers, usually in July or August, with many great orchestral tutors coming from all over the world to Kurdistan. The orchestra usually contains 45 to 50 players – Kurds and Arabs – without restricting itself to any single nationality, religion or culture. It’s hard to bring this many different groups together in one country, but on stage, the orchestra could do just that. That is the power of music, which can bring people together despite their differences.

Date

June 5, 2012 | 2:00 pm

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Musician, teacher – or both?

Picture: Hellgurd Ahmed

Lana playing in a Ranya Symphony Orchestra concert

Once you’re in your fifth year of studies to become a teacher in Iraq, you start training in a primary school or a kindergarten. It takes about forty days, and on some of them, your professors come to the class and evaluate your teaching. When they’re there, it’s important to give an exam that shows off your abilities and what have you learned during those five years.

Date

June 2, 2012 | 10:00 am

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Growing acceptance for music in Iraq

Picture: Hellgurd Ahmed

Playing together with a friend at our institute's annual festival

In my last entry, I talked about the problems in Iraq’s fine arts institutes. In the last decades in Kurdistan, I think people have come to a better understanding of art in general – and music specifically – but this is not true in every area of my country. Some families do not allow their girls to study music – or sometimes even their boys – because of religious beliefs or because they think it’s inappropriate to make music. You’ll find this view mostly among people who live in the countryside but also among people who have left their villages for small towns or cities or, finally, those with very conservative minds. I know a famous Kurdish musician who studied music for five years away from his hometown without letting his father know what he was studying there. It was only after he graduated that his father found out – otherwise he would have stopped his son’s studies.

Date

May 30, 2012 | 12:25 pm

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Art for art’s sake in Iraq’s colleges?

Are our fine arts institutes teaching us the right things?

Iraq’s fine arts institutes and colleges have made good progress in producing young artists in every creative field, but there are many issues still to talk about, and many things need to be changed in the system. I want to talk about the system in general in this post and go into more personal experiences in my next post.

I went to a fine arts institute, for which students in Iraq are eligible after finishing secondary school. In my experience, if you are interested in music, you should get started with it at a very early age – maybe between 3-5. Then you can learn to play naturally, and a similar argument could be made for other artistic fields.

Date

May 25, 2012 | 11:30 am

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Glimpses into three women’s lives

Female school teachers in Iraq (photo. Hellgurd S. Ahmed).

Gender equality - a lot has changed, but more needs to be done

I wanted to write about women in Iraq this weekend, so I decided to meet with some from different walks of life. That way I could have a better sense of what females are feeling and thinking about in life and how much freedom they feel like they have. Now I want to describe some of the highlights.

Date

May 22, 2012 | 1:30 pm

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Squeezing women’s freedoms as they grow up

Universities are open to men and women, but the job market is a much different story

In my experience in Iraq, the opportunities open to the genders differ according to social setting, age, geographical area and religious believes. We have equality more or less during early childhood, but you still see some differences in how boys and girls are treated.

I think that the opportunities open to males are not limited. They have choices from childhood onward, and they are even allowed to bend the rules. But females are always limited in the chances they have, specifically starting around age 14. Women have to struggle to get their own rights and freedoms, and many of them have sacrificed themselves to provide the freedoms others have today.

Date

May 16, 2012 | 9:31 am

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Strokes of luck

 

Each year, students at the Ranya Institute's festival show off what they can do

I graduated from the Music Department at the Ranya Institute of Fine Arts in June 2008. Of course, I was happy to be done and excited because I thought that I had a job lined up for right afterward. I did everything necessary and met the requirements for a position teaching in a primary school. But it turned out that we recent graduates were unlucky – and not just in my field. No one was finding jobs in Iraq.

Date

May 11, 2012 | 3:30 pm

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