By Staff Sgt. Jason Douglas, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry DivisionJune 22, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq - A fence, a restroom and a study hall are some of the improvements students of the Laylan Roman Primary should see when they attend school this fall in the village of Laylan, Kirkuk province.
The new construction is part of a combined project established between the Laylan Community Action Group and the Agricultural Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in Oversees Cooperative Assistance.
The ACDI/VOCA is the non-governmental organization which first identified the problems at Laylan, a school with 150 students and nine teachers. The organization works through grants from the United States Agency for International Development to help develop social and economic infrastructure.
A community action group is part of a program designed to involve citizens in the development of their communities, according to Tim Moore, the Senior Development Advisor for the Kirkuk Provincial Reconstruction Team and the USAID Representative in Kirkuk. The Laylan CAG is comprised of at least nine members of the community and includes the town mayor.
Moore and his deputy, Sana Rajah, traveled to Laylan Roman Primary School, June 4, to verify construction.
"The project was in collaboration between the local community and ACDI/VOCA, which made this school project a priority," Moore said. "We are going to the school to check the status of the ongoing project."
According to an ACDI/VOCA report, the Laylan Roman Primary doesn't have enough restrooms, and suffers from neighborhood noise distractions because it doesn't have a surrounding fence. The school also doesn't have the required space to perform school testing, forcing Laylan students to travel several miles to Kirkuk to take end-of-school-year exams to proceed to the next grade.
The project will build a fence around the school for privacy and noise control, an additional restroom, and a study/exam hall so students will not have to make the trip to Kirkuk.
Construction began April 2 and is expected to be completed in August. Funding for the project is shared, with more than $96,000 coming from the Government of Iraq, and just over $85,000 contributed by the ACDI/VOCA.
According to school officials, this new construction shows the community that Iraq's Directorate of Education and the local government are trying to meet its needs.
"The school project, developed and executed by the Laylan Community Action Group, in partnership with USAID and the Iraqi Government, to give the students of Laylan a safe and conducive environment for learning, demonstrates the important role of the community action group to bring self-reliance to the Laylan district," Moore said.
The school also received donated land from the town to expand the school grounds and create a new play area for the students.