World

Millions of Iraqi students begin new academic year a month later than scheduled

  • Iraqi students take part in assembly at al-Kenuz primary School in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Iraqi students went back to school on Wednesday amid tightened security as the academic year began a month late because thousands of people displaced by last summer's onslaught by the Islamic State group had taken shelter in school buildings. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    Iraqi students take part in assembly at al-Kenuz primary School in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Iraqi students went back to school on Wednesday amid tightened security as the academic year began a month late because thousands of people displaced by last summer's onslaught by the Islamic State group had taken shelter in school buildings. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)  (The Associated Press)

  • Policemen stand guard as Iraqi students leave al-Kenuz primary school in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Iraqi students went back to school on Wednesday amid tightened security as the academic year began a month late because thousands of people displaced by last summer's onslaught by the Islamic State group had taken shelter in school buildings. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    Policemen stand guard as Iraqi students leave al-Kenuz primary school in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Iraqi students went back to school on Wednesday amid tightened security as the academic year began a month late because thousands of people displaced by last summer's onslaught by the Islamic State group had taken shelter in school buildings. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)  (The Associated Press)

  • Iraqi students listen to their teacher in the classroom of al-Kenuz primary School in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Iraqi students went back to school on Wednesday amid tightened security as the academic year began a month late because thousands of people displaced by last summer's onslaught by the Islamic State group had taken shelter in school buildings. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

    Iraqi students listen to their teacher in the classroom of al-Kenuz primary School in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Iraqi students went back to school on Wednesday amid tightened security as the academic year began a month late because thousands of people displaced by last summer's onslaught by the Islamic State group had taken shelter in school buildings. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)  (The Associated Press)

Millions of Iraqi students have begun the new academic year a month later than scheduled because thousands of families uprooted from restive areas are sheltering in school buildings.

Education Ministry spokeswoman Salama al-Hassan said Wednesday that students in areas controlled by Sunni militants in western and northern Iraq are not obliged to attend classes, but are allowed to take final exams.

Al-Hassan told The Associated Press that students who cannot attend school can watch lectures on a state-run educational TV channel. She added that only a few schools are still occupied by families and that authorities have set up trailers to be used as classrooms.

The Islamic State extremist group overran much of northern and western Iraq -- including the second largest city Mosul -- earlier this year.