In the last weeks a number of articles over the tragedy of Irak educational system

(From Asian Times Online by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily, 11.21.2006)

The recent kidnapping of scores of academics in Baghdad highlights the desperate situation of the education system in occupied Iraq. Armed men wearing Iraqi police uniforms abducted as many as 150 academics from the Ministry of Higher Education. (….) Last month, the Ministry of Education released statistics which indicated that only 30% of Iraq’s 3.5 million students were attending classes. This is less than half the number from the previous year, which, according to the Britain-based non-governmental organization Save the Children, was 75% attendance. Attendance rates for the new school year which started on September 20 were at a record low, according to the ministry. According to the Ministry of Education, 2006 has been the worst year for school attendance since US-led invasion in March 2003. The immediate pre-war level of attendance in 2003 was nearly 100%. At least 270 academics have been killed during the occupation, according to the Iraq study group Brussels Tribunal. (read more here)

The article also point out:

  • when CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) Administrator L Paul Bremer instituted the “de-Ba’athification” plan, caused most teachers and administrators to be fired, arrested or later to be assassinated by death squads and replaced by others who were selected by new ruling parties, which tended to be Shi’ite religious fundamentalists.
  • Billions of dollars were supposedly spent for rehabilitating schools that were severely bombed by US planes during the 2003 invasion. However, the quality of work by foreign contractors, such as Bechtel Corporation, and their sub-contractors was so poor that thousands of schools across the country remain in a state of disrepair.
  • Another problem in some areas is the misuse of school buildings. People in conflict-ridden areas like Ramadi and parts of Baghdad have complained that US soldiers use school buildings as combat posts, especially for snipers.Other schools are used by militias and death squads in areas of Baghdad and southern provinces of Iraq.
  • Today, security is perhaps the major problem facing the education system.

A recent article in The Guardian refers especifically on the consequences of the current enviroment for those concerned with higher education.

(From The Guardian, 11.17.06)

This week’s events at the ministry of higher education in Baghdad have exposed a key issue that has remained largely unreported since the invasion in 2003. The headlines may have been about the ministry, but the key factor was that it involved the kidnap and intimidation of those concerned with higher education and science. It is no accident that the Iraqi government immediately closed all universities. And we now learn that many of the hostages were tortured and have been killed, contrary to initial reports. (read more here)