Current Structure, Status, and Scale of Education in Iraq

It is generally agreed upon that before 1990, this Educational system in Iraq was one of the best in the region in addressing both access and equality. However, the situation began to deteriorate rapidly due to several wars and economic sanctions. According to UNESCO's 2003 Situation Analysis of education in Iraq, the educational system in the Centre/South worsened despite the provision of basics through the Oil for Food Programme. Northern Iraq (Kurdistan) did not suffer as much due to rehabilitation and reconstruction programs organized through several UN agencies.

Since then, major problems have emerged that are hindering the system and include: lack of resources, the politicization of the educational system, uneven emigration and internal displacement of teachers and students, security threats, and corruption. Illiteracy is widespread in comparison with before, standing at 39% for the rural population. Almost 22% of the adult population in Iraq has never attended school, and a mere 9% have secondary school as highest level completed. As far as gender equity, 47% of women in Iraq are either fully or partly illiterate, as women's education suffers from differences across regions, and especially between the North and South.

Since the 2003 invasion and the fall of the former regime [Saddam Hussein], Iraqis with the help of international agencies and foreign governments, have been attempting to create frameworks that would begin to address the issues at hand.
According to the National Development Strategy of Iraq, published on June 30, 2005, the new vision for Iraq intends to:
"Transform Iraq into a peaceful, unified federal democracy and a prosperous, market-oriented regional economic powerhouse that is fully integrated into the global economy" .

This stems from the fact that the country's economy has been mismanaged for 40 years, and a country that once held a bright private sector and the educated population has come to have one of the lowest human development indicators in the region.

The National Development Strategy [NDS] contains four major areas of concentration:
• Strengthening the foundations of economic growth
• Revitalizing the private sector
• Improving quality of life
• Strengthening good governance and security

The major pillar above that includes the category of education is that of "Improving quality of life", as 'healthy citizens tend to be productive citizens that will be able to take advantage of the opportunities provided in a market-oriented economy' . The exact strategy towards education includes 'investing in human capital with a focus on adult literacy, vocational training, and actions to reduce drop-out rates at the primary level'.