U.N.-Supported Study Says Almost Half of Iraq’s Primary Schools Are ‘Dirty’

By Susan Jones | May 11, 2009 | 11:27 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Children in nearly half of Iraq’s primary schools in Iraq are studying in “unsafe and unhealthy environments,” according to a United Nations-backed survey released on Monday.
The study, conducted between 2007 and 2008, found that 48 percent of the 150 schools assessed were “dirty,” the U.N. said in a news release.

Sixty-three percent of the schools lacked chlorine testing procedures for drinking water, putting children “at high risk of water-borne diseases,” since most of the water supplied to the schools comes from government-run facilities where leaky pipes make the water vulnerable to contamination.
On a more positive note, however, the study noted that most of the food served at the schools was “suitable.”
The study also found that boys in Iraqi primary schools are more likely to be exposed to trauma than girls – “suggesting that male students are more active and willing to engage in violent behavior,” the report said.
The World Health Organization, which took part in the study, said it is “very concerned” about the health of the children who attend Iraqi schools – “especially the older students who demonstrate a higher prevalence of health problems,” said WHO Representative in Iraq Naeema Al-Gasseer.
One year ago, a U.S. official in Anbar Province was quoted as saying that “vast improvement in the security environment in 2008” had prompted more parents to send their children back to school full-time.
The school health survey was conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, the Iraqi Ministry of Education, and other Iraqi government groups in “close collaboration” with WHO.