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KARMAH, Iraq (October 5, 2008)-Mayor Faisal Hamad Khalaf cuts the ribbon at the reopening of al Shohabi Boys and Girls primary school, October 5, in Karmah. Hundreds, from sixth to 12th grade, will attend the school this fall. Marines from Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, oversaw the reconstruction of the school. In an area with a roughly 20 percent literacy rate, Coalition forces view the struggling education system as a critical component in successfully rebuilding Iraq. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarlioti

When the security situation improves, good things happen”

4 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis

KARMAH, Iraq (October 5, 2008) – When the school year kicks off this fall in Karmah, hundreds of children will have a newly renovated school to attend.

 The Shahabi primary school reopened Oct. 5 after two months of extensive reconstruction efforts.

In a joint effort to renovate schools in the local area, Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, and 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, donated roughly $360,000 in commander’s emergency response program funds for several renovation projects.

CERP allows U.S. military commanders the ability to provide urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction requirements within their areas of operation.

 “We thank the Coalition forces,” said Ahmed Sulaiman Mejbel, the contractor in charge of construction, who is also former student of the school. “(The renovation) was needed very much.”

The school will host grades six through 12, with a capacity level to accommodate approximately 350 students.

 The school’s renovation demonstrates that with increased security and a professional local police force, significant gains in the community are possible.

“It shows when the security situation improves, good things happen,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Milburn, commanding officer, 1st Bn., 3rd Marines.

 For a local area with only a marginal literacy rate, at a mere 20 percent throughout greater Karmah, such gains in local services are significant for Iraqis in the area. 

Equipped with a new computer lab, the school will provide children opportunities that were once impossible.

“We’re obviously preparing for the future, too,” Milburn said. “And it doesn’t hurt that these kids will remember that it was the government and Coalition forces that enabled them to study in the environment that they did.”

 Schools have proven to be an ideal source to help avert economic problems in a region where a lack of education results in fewer opportunities for collective growth.

 “In the Shohabi village, everyone knows and sees what’s going on,” Sulaiman said. “They will now see the difference between Coalition forces time and insurgent time. Insurgents cause nothing but problems. Coalition forces help us rebuild.”