TAJI, Iraq - It has been two weeks since U.S. Soldiers assessed two neighboring schools that will educate over 1200 students north of Baghdad.

The last time the Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment visited the al-Doha and Malik Ibn Annas Schools, known to the American troops as the Twin Schools, they discovered the schools needed a list of improvements in order to meet an Oct. 1 deadline for the upcoming school year.

Walking the school grounds, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lien, the battalion's civil capacity and essential services officer, and construction site manager, Kaiser Abid, discussed the construction requirements.

"There were a lot of things wrong with the schools during our last visit," explained Lien, from Whitewater, Wis. "I honestly didn't anticipate the schools being completed from my previous interactions with the contractors."

To the surprise of Lien, the construction of the schools was complete and only in need of minor cosmetic work.

"It was definitely a dramatic improvement considering that nine days ago the electricity didn't even work [in the schools]," added Lien. "They've gone from rubble filled buildings to fully functional schools."

As a result, the Ministry of Education representative visited the school and conducted an inspection; giving the project his seal of approval. The MoE representative will now provide his superiors with his full assessment and approval to ensure that the Twin Schools are properly certified. With the MoE and Government of Iraq supporting the schools, children from up to six kilometers away can receive a proper education at the Twin Schools, which the Americans believe is a triumph for this area.

"The education system in Iraq is much different than back in the states and not a lot of children have been able to receive proper schooling," said Lien, who added that he expects children from ages six to sixteen to attend the schools. "The Twin Schools offer a major necessity this area hasn't had before."

"The local leaders and residents understand that the children of this area are the future of Iraq, so there's a lot of excitement about the opening," said Lien, who added he expects the MoE, GoI, and local Iraqi Security Forces to join U.S. troops when they open the school sometime in the next week.

The schools will not only offer an education to the children, but it will provide over fifty jobs to local residents, which the Americans hope will help revitalize the economic infrastructure within the area.

"The local Nahia and Qada councils are excited about this project," said Lien. "Residents drive by and ask questions and tell their friends. An excitement has grown around the Twin Schools. The residents understand that their children are the future for a brighter Iraq and want this to happen."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16