United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Education in IRAQ
UNESCO and Education in IRAQ Fact Sheet (28 March 2003)
- The Education system in Iraq, prior to 1991, was one of the best in the region, with over 100% Gross Enrolment Rate for primary schooling and high levels of literacy, both of men and women. The Higher Education, especially the scientific and technological institutions, were of an international standard, staffed by high quality personnel.
- UNESCO has cooperated with Iraq in the field of education at all levels since its earliest years. More recently, within the framework of Education for All, UNESCO has collaborated with the national authorities in preparing the EFA strategy and in identifying key areas for international cooperation.
- Within the framework of the inter-agency humanitarian response under the 'Oil for Food' Programme, the Organisation has played the role of the lead agency for education in Iraq. In Northern Iraq, UNESCO has implemented the Programme, through capacity building, the procurement of education materials and textbooks at all levels of education and the rehabilitation and construction of over 1144 primary schools together with UNICEF, 276 secondary schools and 33 institutions of higher education (of which 19 university buildings were rehabilitated and 14 university and technical institutes constructed). Equipment has been provided for the functioning of the universities as well as setting up of audio-visual learning facilities. In the Centre and the South, UNESCO together with the other UN agencies has contributed to the Programme in its capacity as observer, monitoring the distribution of the educational materials.
- UNESCO's contribution to the improvement of education was greatly appreciated both by the international partners and the local authorities. As an indication of the impact of the cooperation in the North, during the period 1995/1996 to 2001/2002 the primary enrolments increased by 77%, secondary enrolments by 103% and higher education by 76%. During the same time, there was a 126% increase in the number of schools at primary level and 70% at the secondary level. Regarding quality of education, which has been one of our major concerns, we are glad to report that all primary and secondary school teachers received training in subject matter and methodology. The educational administrative staff at all levels likewise received training in management. With a view to addressing internal efficiency issues, over 41,000 students at all levels of education benefited from compensatory learning.
- Under the 'Oil for Food' Programme, UNESCO has had a team of 59 international staff, including educational procurements specialists, and about 105 national staff employed to support our activities.
- Since the beginning of the OIP programme, almost $192 million has been committed to UNESCO for its work in the North, of which almost $58 million has been fully implemented.
- UNESCO on its own budget is constructing a model secondary school for girls in Baghdad, as its contribution to providing updated educational facilities for girls' education.
- In its capacity as the coordinator for EFA and to ensure that education is speedily restored after the current period of conflict, UNESCO is gearing itself up for participation in the UN humanitarian and reconstruction efforts. UNESCO's past experience in other war torn and post conflict situations has shown that education can play a key role in consolidating the peace process, restoring national unity and hope for the future. The objective of UNESCO's immediate actions will be to ensure that children return to school and college as soon as possible, for completion of the current school year. To this end, UNESCO is participating in the inter-agency Education Task Force, operating in Amman. UNESCO local team is supported by the 'Oil for Food' team and other specialists based in Paris and the field offices in Beirut, Tehran, Doha and Cairo, as instructed by the Director General in his recent note setting up the Inter-Sectoral Task Force for Iraq. Under the immediate inter-agency humanitarian intervention, UNESCO has proposed to ally its efforts with the other agencies by focussing essentially on non-formal and secondary education. It is, however, also going to capitalise on its capacity in the area of textbook provision in order to ensure that the textbooks in key areas are available in sufficient numbers when schools are able to reopen. UNESCO will use all its capacities and resources to support the effort of reconstruction and ensure the efficient functioning of an education system open to the challenges of the twenty first century. UNESCO would like to alert the international community of the need to ensure that the education institutions begin functioning rapidly as a prerequisite for restoring normalcy and to ensure that a school year is not lost for almost 6 million Iraqi children and youth.
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