'I can study in Kurdish without fear'

January 27, 2006

Tuition in Kurdish is one of the key factors in the development of Northern Iraq's universities. "I feel such freedom to be studying in my language without fear," said Faiz Mohammed, a Kurdish student at Dohuk University.

Luis Pandur, dean of education, said Kurdish education was unthinkable under Saddam. "It was dangerous to speak Kurdish or even to say you were Kurdish. That is why it is so important now to teach in Kurdish."

But Dohuk rector Asmat Khalid acknowledged that limitations in vocabulary meant that business studies and science courses had to be taught in English. Some students object to the use of Arabic in teaching law.

Law student Deriye Arti said: "We should have all of our courses in Kurdish, our mother tongue. Why should we study in Arabic? It is not our language."

After 100 years of suppression of a language now fractured into several dialects, Dr Khalid said that Kurdish education was in a transition period.

"There is a lot of work being done to find a language to be understood by all Kurds and universities are in the forefront of developing this language."

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