Damaged during the ISIL conflict, Shirqat College of Engineering is excited to welcome students and faculty back to its campus.
Return to campus: Shirqat College of Engineering reopens its doors
October 5, 2022
The ISIL conflict displaced millions of Iraqis and destroyed homes, schools, offices, water systems, electricity networks and hospitals. Among the destruction were universities and colleges. During the occupation, they became hotbeds of repression. As the conflict deepened, academic freedom was left threatened or curtailed. Teachers, researchers, and students were forced to flee, and classes were abruptly stalled. Sometimes entire campuses were left devastated.
Unfortunately, the Shirqat College of Engineering in Salah al-Din was among the many severely impacted institutions. Established in 2013, it was a relatively new institution before occupation. Equipped with a world-class curriculum and faculty, it aimed to become the engineering hub for Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al-Din. The college focused on providing students with the required tools, resources and knowledge to develop solutions in mechanical and electrical engineering. However, it suffered extensive damages under ISIL and subsequently closed." After liberation, the college was only a name on paper. The building was destroyed," says Professor Ali Mustafa, Dean, Shirqat College of Engineering.
After the conflict, only thirty students enrolled for classes. But today, over 300 students have enrolled. "The increase in enrollment has been possible because of the upgrading and equipping of the college and its laboratories . Initially, the college limited its admissions to the residents of Shirqat. Now, we welcome students from Iraq, such as Basra, Erbil, and Mosul. It is important to ensure diversity, inclusion, and cultural exchange between young Iraqis," he adds.
Rebuilding institutions like the Shirqat Engineering College is crucial for post-conflict recovery, peacebuilding and economic development. For 22-year-old Ahmed Hammadi, a second-year mechanical engineering student, returning to campus has restored his sense of hope. "When we returned home, Shirqat was under rubble. But life is different now. I can see a lot of changes since liberation. Today, the college is closer to my home, and I can easily travel to the campus." During the conflict, Ahmed and his family fled to Kirkuk city. Two years after liberation, they returned to Shirqat as essential services like water, electricity and health care were restored. Looking ahead, he hopes to graduate and contribute to developing his hometown.
Ahmed is not alone. 19-year-old Faten Aziz, a first-year mechanical engineering student, also feels the same sense of renewed hope. "When we returned with my family from Erbil, it hurt me to see the pictures of the martyrs, destroyed buildings and abandoned homes. It was a bad period. Today, I see hope and have new aspirations. I hope to graduate and contribute to rebuilding my country."
The Shirqat College of Engineering was rehabilitated through UNDP's Funding Facility for Stabilization with generous funding provided by Canada. The Facility focuses on rehabilitating public infrastructure and providing essential services to communities living in areas affected by the conflict. It includes rehabilitating schools and hospitals, water systems and electricity networks, providing short-term employment through public works schemes and rehabilitating damaged houses.
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