Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, on Saturday opened a new private primary school, 'Myriamana (Our Lady Mary),' near the Chaldean cathedral. Representatives of the local clergy, National Education General Director Schant, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hamad Al-Hamin, imam at Kirkuk's grand mosque, and Sheikh Ismael Hadidi attended the event. The new educational facility, which has a nursery and a kindergarten, has more than 100 boys and girls, Christian and Muslims, supervised by 15 staff members.
For Iraqi Christians, the new school is reason for hope and a cause to stay. It gives a boost to the will to live together. As the archbishop said in his opening address, "A school can always be found near a church because the Church's mission is to educate and train. It is 'Mater et Magistra.' In such an initiative we do not have any material interest, but only a desire to provide a solid education and training to the new generations."
Financially, the "poorest students will not pay any fees. Middle class kids will pay only half. The fee is symbolic because the school is funded by the diocese. Christians and Muslims will study together. They will learn the principles of both religions in positive, fair and responsible way to that they can live together in mutual respect and harmony and thus promote a culture of dialogue and peace that can guarantee a better future."
Director Schak spoke about the role Christians have played in Iraqi culture, as well as their contribution to the country's development. In his address, the imam praised the initiatives of the Church to bring together the people of Kirkuk.
This is the first private Christian school in Kirkuk. Under Saddam Hussein, all schools were state-run. The new government has for its part authorised the opening of private schools and universities.