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Education in Iraq

Iraqi education system was one of the best in the middle-east prior to the 1990s and Iraq can boast of an enviable cent percent gross enrolment rate in the primary schools. However, Saddam Hussain’s dictatorship and consequent war and destruction wrought havoc in the educational system of Iraq. The present Iraqi school system is a miniscule reflection of the Iraqi society during and after the fall of Saddam Hussain. During the long and arduous role of Saddam Hussain, the school curriculum had textbooks covered with syllabuses which serve as mouthpiece of government propaganda and policy.

Hussain used the educational system as a propaganda tool to serve political aim. From the textbooks written in that period, it is very clear that they acted basically as the mouthpiece of the government. In the fifth grade Iraqi textbooks, the 1991 Gulf war has been described as the mother of all battles, lunches by American and Zionist aggressionist forces, along with 30 nations. In the maths textbooks during Hussain’s role, the problem sums of multiplication were mostly done in terms of causality counts of shooting US fighter planes.

Students are taught to stand up and wish the longevity of their revered leader Saddam Hussain as soon as teacher’s entered their classroom. Be it in physical education class, or school assembly, anti-US chant and glorification of Saddam Hussain was a day to day activity. Saddam Hussain was a part of almost all the textbooks and activities in a school and any school not adhering to this unwritten norms had to face the wrath of the Baath party (Wang, 2005). After the U. S.

led war and consequent ousting of Saddam Hussain, in order to cleanse the curriculum of Saddam Hussain’s influence, newly edited books have been published by Iraq and neighboring countries as well as UNICEF. However, transition to a modified curriculum had not been easy for many teachers as well as students as the image and dictates of Saddam Hussain is so deep rooted in their psyche that it will be sometime before they are ready to accept the new and revised curriculum. Interviewee’s view

According to Abdul who studied in Iraq from elementary to secondary level in government schools, there was no innovative change in curriculum and same books have been used repeatedly over the years. Although tuition fees were waived, books were not free. English though introduced from the fifth standards, it was taught as a second language only. Science laboratories in government schools were ill equipped to carry out experiments as the government strictly prohibited the use of chemicals in schools. Computer was not introduced in schools, and even secondary school students were computer illiterate.

At the end of secondary level, students were evaluated through Baccalaureate examination and only meritorious students could get admitted in colleges and universities. Conclusion After the fall of Saddam Hussain and invasion of Iraq, new educational systems were introduced and Baathist ideology curriculum was done away with. With the implementation of new curriculum, enhancement of teacher’s salaries, upgradation of trainings, the education system is expected to recover from the damage of war, sanctions and instability.

The process of upgradation of schools are hindered due to poor security conditions, and dearth of funds, yet it is hoped that with a well chalked out plan and sincerity and time bound program by the government can go a long way making Iraq once again a region of excellent literacy track record. If Iraq could achieve 100% literacy mark prior to the 1990s, sincere government efforts can do the miracle again.


Wang, T (2005) Rewriting the textbooks: education policy in post Hussain Iraq, Harvard International Review, Retrieved from the url: http://www. entrepreneur. com/tradejournals/article/129463338. html on 2nd March, 08

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