Volunteering key to develop educational sector and empower Iraqi women

Ms. Dastan Abdullah Saeed, teaches General English to first year University students at the Software and Informatics Engineering Department, Salahaddin University in Erbil. She previously worked as an IELTS invigilator at the British Council in Erbil and has a keen interest in working as a volunteer for educational and academic development in Iraq.

UNAMI PIO: In your experience in the educational sector, what do you think needs to change to get more girls educated?

Dastan: “Changes have to be made to get more girls and boys educated. We should create new projects and work hard on a voluntary basis for public schools and public universities. This can be done by setting up a voluntary organization or center, in which educated and experienced people can work together as a team to highlight ongoing problems in the educational sector, conduct research and find practical solutions. Volunteering is key at this time when the region is facing serious economic crisis.”

“I am a passionate volunteer and I personally believe that a learning development center or language preparation course should be opened so that the high school graduates can join the workshops and improve their language skills. I want to suggest the opening of a free English language preparation course for high school students preparing for university studies. We also need to encourage students to read more story books in English so that they can improve their reading and writing skills.”

UNAMI PIO: How do you think the lives of Iraqi women have changed in the last five years in terms of working in the private or public sector?

Dastan: “In my opinion, I believe the lives of women have changed in such a way that nowadays, Kurdish women have many choices to become teachers, lecturers, professors, managers, administrators, accountants, office workers, secretaries, directors, lawyers, doctors, MPs, etc.”

“Personally, I worked as an office worker at the university for two years after completing my Masters Studies in the UK in 2014. I have been teaching English to engineering first year students since 2014. When I worked as an IELTS invigilator at the British Council in Erbil, I saw many women candidates alongside men taking the test. This means that women now want to study for Masters and/or PhD for getting a better career. Besides, they want to gain more knowledge in their discipline and conduct new projects and research.”

Dastan’s passion for volunteerism is beginning to yield fruits. In July 2017, she attended the ‘Next Step’ event with some of her students to launch the biggest volunteerism network in Kurdistan Region, called Nishtiman Youth Network (NYN). NYN is the largest volunteerism network in Kurdistan Region of Iraq that runs development programs with volunteers to learn and contribute their skills to create a positive change. It also advocates for youth and women development, finding solution-based methods for Education, Health, and Environment sectors. Subsequently, she became an official member of the network and will now be able to present and conduct her volunteer projects via this network. She plans to carry out a project for university graduates: a free English Language and Career Development Course, and another one for high school student by presenting seminars and providing free English books to them. She also wants to provide free English language course to children of Peshmerga.

Text by Celia Thompson (UNAMI PIO)

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNAMI
Last modified on Sunday, 23 July 2017 10:39

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