Ph.D. Mikhaylov D.V ., Karam Jasim Mohammed
Volodymyr Dal East Ukrainian National University, Lugansk , Ukraine
HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN IRAQ
From ancient times Iraq was known as Mesopotamia, and was the cradle of the first human civilizations known to man; wherein arose on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris the Sumerian, Akkadian , Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations witnessed flourishing the first forms of social, political and economic organizations. Since the dawn of Islam, Iraq had a great significance in its regions for the Arabic Islamic civilization especially during the time of the Abbasids; Baghdad remained throughout the ages the lighthouse of culture, civilization and ingenuity bound for by seekers of education from all places attracting men of thought and literature from all around the world. Iraq got its independence of the British Mandate in 1920. It was a poor country economically dependent on agriculture as a basic income. After independence, Iraq established its educational system in 1921, offering both public and private paths. Due to the fact that Iraq was one of the Ottoman States for nearly 400 years, the proportion of illiteracy in 1920 was 90% of the Iraqi people. The most important achievement in higher education of that stage was the foundation of some schools like: Medicine, Engineering, Law and Arts which belonged to the University of Baghdad after its establishment later.
The Republic of Iraq was initiated in 1958. That stage was marked by the adoption of Iraq to another economic resource, since Iraq succeeded in getting a share of its oil about 45% from the foreign oil companies, which were in control of the Iraqi oil. That share helped to great economic and social changes, including its education development. The modern universities in Iraq were established beginning with the University of Baghdad in 1957. Then, other universities including the University of Technology and Al- Mustansirya , other university in Baghdad as well as universities in Basra, Mosul and Sulaymaniah were established during the 1960s. In the beginning of the 1960s, spending on health, education and culture in Iraq enjoyed a special place considering these areas as the most important investments in human capital, in line with developmental thinking at the time. The third stage was considered as one of the most important stages in the development of Iraq due to the constitutional legislation in 1970 to create a giant leap in all sectors. It is during this economic boom in the country, Iraq was able to develop its education horizontally and vertically, to make the country in 1985 free from illiteracy according to the classification of UNESCO. Up to the early 1980s, Iraq’s educational system was considered one of the best in the Middle East and highly praised throughout. Iraq invested a reasonable part of its oil in providing fully social services to all its citizens. Without any discrimination from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s Iraq witnessed a wide progress in various fields of life that included the educational sector which acquires a special attention because of its role in the process of the cultural structure of the society.
Education in Iraq is highly centralized and state-controlled in which the State fully finances all aspects of public education such as supplying books, teaching aids and free student residences. The academic year in Iraq starts from September till June. There are three authorities control the process of decision making and supervision of the Iraq education system: local government educational authorities, which are in charge of kindergarten and primary education; Ministry of Education, which is in charge of secondary and vocational education (general, vocational, and teacher training), including curriculum development; and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, which is in charge of the administration of universities and the Foundation of Technical Institutes (tertiary education and research centres ). Arabic is used as the primary language of instruction at all institutions, whereas Kurdish is taught in Kurdish areas. The educational policy extends across four learning levels. The pre-school education in Iraq lasts for duration of two years and is open to children 4 years old whereas primary education is six years in duration and is compulsory through age 11. On the other hand, secondary education is six years in duration and completed in two stages: Intermediate and Preparatory. Intermediate education lasts for duration of three years for students aged 12 to 14 years. Similarly, preparatory education also lasts for three years and is designed to prepare students for the labour market or university study. Preparatory education is divided into two branches (scientific and literary) beginning with the second year of preparatory education, during which students pursue academic studies in the sciences or humanities. Furthermore, there is a six or three-year (depending on the point of entry) vocational preparatory stream of education, which covers industrial, agricultural and commercial branches which is designed to prepare students for work in the professions or for university study. Besides, there are also two-year postsecondary institutes which train students for various technical professions. Finally, tertiary education is open to students who satisfactorily complete secondary education it lasts from three to six years in duration. In addition to that, there are also programmes leading to postgraduate degrees.
The quality of education has deteriorated after the 1990s. Factors responsible for the decline in quality are represented in the low level of education financing, lack of minimum standards in the form of teaching-learning materials (such as textbooks, libraries, laboratories), deteriorating infrastructure, outdated curricula, and overcrowding. Moreover, staff member are poorly trained, demoralized and unmotivated. The followed teaching methods carry on being dependent on lecture with no emphasis on analysis, synthesis or other forms of knowledge application. Innovation and initiatives to improve quality outside the rigid state-run education system were generally not encouraged. The gifted students’ schools represent a very limited exception.
Preparation of teachers and basic training is weak and skills in communication and information technology are seriously limited. The teaching workforce is isolated from the outside world. Furthermore, professional development programs are lacking; opportunities for progressing education and clinical supervision are scarce. There is no encouragement for rural areas. A large number of qualified and well trained teachers have been lost; they have been replaced by less qualified teachers.
Iraq enjoyed a long and proud reputation for its distinguished universities and the quality of its education; however, a sequence of wars and sanctions severely damaged its education system. Due to the invasion by the U.S troops in 2003 and till the time being, 84% of the infrastructure in Iraqi higher education institutions has been burnt, looted or severely destroyed in some form. Besides, the assassinations campaign which harvested hundreds of Iraqi academics’ lives and the ongoing daily threats represented the situation in Iraq’s today.