History of Education in Iraq

Iraq established its education system in 1921, offering both public and private paths. In the early 1970s, education became public and free at all levels, and mandatory at the primary level. Two ministries manage the education system in Iraq: the Ministry of Education [MOE] and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research [MOHSR]. The Ministry of Educatiocientific Research [MOHSR] is in charge of tertiary education and research centers.

The Golden Years:1970-1984
Iraq's education system was one of the best in the region during this period of time and highly praised throughout. By 1984, major accomplishments had been achieved, which include but are not limited to:
• Gross Enrollment Rates rising over 100%
• Almost complete gender parity in enrollment
• Illiteracy among 6-12 age group declined to less than 10%
• Dropout/Repetition rates were the lowest in the Middle East and North Africa [MENA] region
• Spending in Education reached 6% of Gross National Product [GNP] and 20% of Iraq's total government budget
• The average government spending per student for education was ~$620

The Decline Years: 1984-1989
The 1980s brought about the war with Iran, which in turn led to a diversion of public resources towards military spending. Naturally, this resulted in a steep decline in overall social spending. With this, the education budget suffered from a deficit, which continued to grow as the years passed. There was also no strategic plan in place to address these issues at the time.

The Crisis Years: 1990-2003
Moreover, the 1990s brought about the first Gulf War and economic sanctions, which caused Iraq's educational institutions to debilitate further. Some of the outcomes of the weakening system included but are not limited to:
• The share of education in the Gross National Product [GNP] dropped to almost half, resting at 3.3% in 2003
• As Gross Income declined, resources for education suffered
• Education came to assume only 8% of the total government budget
• Government Spending per student on education dropped from $620 in the 'Golden Years' to $47
• Teacher salaries dropped in real terms, from $500-1000/month to $5/month in 2002-2003
• Gross Enrollment in primary schooling dropped to 90%
• The gender gap increased [95% Male, 80% Female]
• The dropout rate reached 20% [31%Female, 18%Male]
• The repetition rate reached a figure that is double that of the MENA region, 15%, and 34% for secondary schools.