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IRIN Middle East | Middle East | IRAQ | IRAQ: Briefing paper on Education | Children, Democracy, Human Rights, Peace Security | Breaking News
Saturday 20 August 2005
 
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IRAQ: Briefing paper on Education


[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


ANKARA, 20 May 2004 (IRIN) -

SUMMARY

Iraq's education system, considered one of the best in the region in the 1980s, has declined dramatically in the last 20 years.

An estimated 60 percent of Iraq's population is now illiterate, and at least 25 percent of primary school-age children do not go to school, according to World Bank statistics. It is estimated that half of children do not go on to secondary school. In rural areas the numbers are even higher. Up to half of girls never attend school, according to the Ministry of Education (MoE). UNICEF suggests that only 55 percent of men and only 23 percent of women can read.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that in recent months the number of children being kept at home by their parents has risen dramatically as insecurity and violence plague parts of the country.

The MoE recently unveiled a policy of freedom of thought and expression, tolerance and national unity in schools after gathering opinions from religious and political leaders from around Iraq.

But the ministry still faces pressure from religious conservatives to teach more religion and morals in schools, following the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Ministry officials last year removed decades of political teaching and indoctrination required by the former Baath party regime. Officials replaced it with a moderate curriculum that focuses on basic, universally practised religious teachings.

According to MoE statistics, there are 14,924 schools in Iraq and 80 percent of them (11,939) need some sort of repair following the looting when the former regime fell. Some 40 percent (5,970) need major rehabilitation and 9 percent (1,343) are in need of demolition or rebuilding. However, the country's school were never in good condition - in 2002 the UN estimated that half of all school toilet facilities did not meet basic hygienic standards.

There are plans for the MoE to build 4,500 schools in the next four years. The ministry asked for US $3.2 billion in repair and investment costs at an international donor's conference in Madrid in November 2003. The World Bank has pledged $100 million to rewrite and reprint all school textbooks containing references to Saddam Hussein.

In addition, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) edited all primary and secondary school maths and science textbooks and distributed 8,759,260 million textbooks in 16 governorates across the country. Some 70 percent were printed in Iraq and 30 percent in Jordan.

CENTRAL REGION

In Baghdad, about 1,560 of approximately 1,700 schools have received $750 grants for repairs and supplies of their choice from the Baghdad School Teacher/Parent Programme. The money was part of the $35 million that USAID allocated in Central Iraq between May 2003 and March 2004.

Baghdad University received a multi-million dollar grant from the US-Iraqi higher education and development programme for archaeology and environmental health. It also received a grant for legal education reform. Baghdad's Technology University and al-Anbar University in western Iraq got a chunk of the money to deal with higher education initiatives.

SOUTHERN REGION

USAID invested up to $29 million in education-related issues, such as the accelerated learning programme which involved students from Nasiriyah and Karbala.

The US-Iraqi higher education and development programme pledged a $20.7 million grant to fund higher education reforms. The University of Babil, the University of Salah ad-Din and Basra University were the beneficiaries of this initiative. Basra University used part of its grant for archaeology and environmental health and for legal education reforms.

NORTHERN REGION

Students in ad-Diwaniyah and Arbil were involved in the USAID accelerated learning programme. In total, the USAID allocated more than $8 million for education projects in the five governorates of the region during the last year.

Mosul University received a grant from a US-Iraqi higher education and development programme for archaeology and environmental health. The University of Mosul Hamam al-Alil and the University of Dahuk received a grant for academic, research and extension programmes. Those two universities also received a grant, along with the Nursing Institute in Dahuk, for public health and sanitation. The University of Sulaymaniyah received money for legal education reform.

In general, the USAID funded 5.5 million examinations immediately after the conflict. It awarded 627 grants worth more than $6 million to repair schools. More than 2,300 schools were repaired for the 2003/4 school year.

In addition, USAID distributed nearly 1.5 million secondary school kits with basic school supplies like pens, pencils and paper. It bought and installed 159,005 student desks, 61,500 chalkboards and 58,100 teacher kits. It also distributed 808,000 primary student kits and 81,735 primary teacher kits.

[ENDS]


 Accessed 1938
 Theme(s) Children
Other recent IRAQ reports:

‘Expired food causing health problems’,  18/Aug/05

Focus on constitutional concerns,  14/Aug/05

Insecurity threatens to leave students with late start,  10/Aug/05

Annan waives official’s immunity after Oil for Food inquiry report,  9/Aug/05

Freak sandstorm brings rush on Baghdad hospitals,  9/Aug/05

Other recent Children reports:

MIDDLE EAST: MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 35 for 12-18 August 2005, 18/Aug/05

ZIMBABWE: Pilot project provides shelter to cleanup victims, 17/Aug/05

MALI: Nomadic lifestyle threatened by years of successive droughts, 17/Aug/05

DRC-ZAMBIA: WHO calls to step up polio surveillance along borders, 16/Aug/05

MALI: No famine, but a perennial problem of poverty, 15/Aug/05

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