Education System in Iraq - An Overview

Education in Iraq is administered by Ministry of Education. According to UNESCO’s report Iraq had the best performance in filed of Education prior to the Gulf War in 1991 in the Arab region. Literacy rate was significantly high and Gross Enrollment Rate was 100%.

Following the invasion of Iraq by America in 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority with the help from International Organizations undertook the complete reform of Iraqi Education System. The immediate target of Coalition was to remove Baathist ideology from teaching institutions, increase the salaries of educators and strengthening teaching and training programs. The new ministry also appointed a national Curriculum Commission to revise curricula in all subjects. Further, the Baathist regime did not provide sufficient funds for Education in the past due to which, more than 80 percent of Iraqi schools in 2003 needed improvements. During Baathist rule, the number of children attending schools were very low as many of them were forced into labor. 

Afterwards, when the change of political power in Iraq took place, the number of students attending schools became more than 6 million. This number includes children from kindergarten to twelfth grade.

In the present scenario, six years of compulsory Education is a must for all and children in Iraq, after which students need to participate in the National Examination. The performance of students in National Examination determines if they should continue with upper grades. For those who do not pass the National Examination, a vocational education system is also available. It is also important to note that 7th standard onwards, boys and girls attend separate schools. 

Iraq joined UNESCO on October 21, 1948. UNESCO’s Iraq office is temporarily sharing space with the UNESCO Office Amman in Jordan. In 2004, UNESCO has sent books for students and for university libraries in Baghdad as well as to regional centers in Basra and Mosul. Iraq has implemented UNESCO Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE), a 10-year initiative aimed at achieving the goals of the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012).

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