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Education in areas under Kurdish control

During the early years of the Autonomist War (1962-64), the "liberated areas" were divided into two zones--the southern parts being administered by the radical leaders in the political bureau of the Kurdish Democratic Party while the more remote northern territories came under the influence of Mulla Mustafa Barzani's tribally-oriented leadership (cf., e.g., Jawad 1981:82).

As part of a program to organize the nationalist movement along non-tribal lines, the K.D.P initiated the formation of peasants' committees and introduced political and educational programs in the southern region (Ibid., p. 84). 'These activities, together with other political differences, led to a breach between the two contending leaderships which resulted in the 1964 ouster of the political bureau and its replacement by a conservative group. Educational programs for the rural masses were then discontinued under the new leadership (cf., e.g., the section on "revolutionary organs and services" in Vanly 1970:238-55, which does not mention educational activism).

As the autonomist war continued, however, more intellectuals, especially students and teachers from the towns under government control, joined the movement, and a number of schools instructing in Kurdish were opened in the late 1960s. According to Kurdish Affairs Bulletin (No.7, undated, probably early 1970), teacher training courses were initiated and two groups graduated from this program in August and October 1969.

In March 1974, when the government launched its fifth offensive, a large exodus of students and teachers began-over 1,000 students from Sulaymaniya University, over 100 from art schools, about 20,000 secondary school and some 60,000 primary school students left (Dengî Kurdistan, No.7, 1975, p. 212). In spite of the intense war, 153 primary schools were operating throughout the area extending from Zakho to Khanaqin. All courses at these schools were taught in Sorani Kurdish by "teachers of revolution" (mamostay şoriş) composed of former secondary school students and teachers, many of whom had joined the movement in March 1974 (Talib Barzanji, private correspondence, June 8, 1978). Classes at Sulaymaniya University were resumed in the small town of Qala Diza. The relocated university, together with a primary school, was bombed by the Iraqi Air Force, killing many students, teachers and faculty members (Ibid.; cf., also, Guardian [London], May 7, 1974).

Source: Dr. Amir Hassanpour, "Nationalism and Language in Kurdistan 1918-1985", 1992.

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