Education System in Iraq

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.

The elementary education system in Iraq is of 6 years duration i.e. from grade 1 to grade 6. Students join Grade 1 at the age of 6. Pupils are awarded an Elementary Certificate (Al-Shahada Al-Ibtedaya), also referred to as Elementary Baccalaureate Certificate (Sharadet Al-Bakaloria Al-Ibtedaya). The grading scales used in elementary schools are:
  • First 4 years (1st grade- 4th grade): 0 – 10 (5 or higher is a passing grade)
  • Last 2 years (5th grade- 6th grade): 0 – 100 (50 or higher is a passing grade)
The secondary school education in Iraq is of 6 years duration. Students join secondary school at the age of 12 and complete at age of 18. The secondary school system in Iraq is divided into two phases of three-year each: the intermediate phase (ages 12-15) and the preparatory phase (ages 15-18). 

At the end of each phase students need to write national examination administered by the Ministry of Education. After passing the national examination at the end of the third year Intermediate Certificate (Al-Shahada Al-Mutawasita), also called Intermediate Baccalaureate (Shahadet Al-Bakaloria Al-Mutawasita) is awarded.

Further, the students are provided options to choose between Academic or Technical/Vocational discipline at upper-secondary preparatory school. Academic streams prepare students for tertiary education, whereas technical-vocational programs have a strong emphasis on practical training, and are designed to directly prepare graduates for entry into the job market, even though higher education pathways also exist for graduates in these streams.

At the end of Grade 12 all students write national examination. Upon passing of the examination, Preparatory Certificate (Al-Shahada Al-Idadya), also known as Preparatory Baccalaureate Certificate (Shahadet Al-Bakaloria Al-Idadya) is awarded.

The score in final baccalaureate examination determines students’ eligibility for admission to higher education institutions.
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