Education after the 2003 invasion

Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority, with substantial international assistance, undertook a complete reform of Iraq’s education system. Among immediate goals were the removal of previously pervasive Baathist ideology from curricula and substantial increases in teacher salaries and training programs, which the Hussein regime neglected in the 1990s. The new Ministry of Education appointed a national curriculum commission to revise curricula in all subject areas. Because of under-funding by the Hussein regime, in 2003 an estimated 80 percent of Iraq’s 15,000 school buildings needed rehabilitation and lacked basic sanitary facilities, and most schools lacked libraries and laboratories.

In the 1990s, school attendance decreased drastically as education funding was cut and economic conditions forced children into the workforce. After the regime change, the system included about 6 million students in kindergarten through twelfth grade and 300,000 teachers and administrators. Education is mandatory only through the sixth grade, after which a national examination determines the possibility of continuing into the upper grades. Although a vocational track is available to those who do not pass the exam, few students elect that option because of its poor quality. Boys and girls generally attend separate schools beginning with seventh grade. In 2005 obstacles to further reform were poor security conditions in many areas, a centralized system that lacked accountability for teachers and administrators, and the isolation in which the system functioned for the previous 30 years. Few private schools exist. (One notable example: The Classical School of the Medes in Northern Iraq.) Prior to the occupation of 2003, some 240,000 persons were enrolled in institutions of higher education. The CIA World Factbook estimates that in 2000 the adult literacy rate was 84 percent for males and 64 percent for females, with UN figures suggesting a small fall in literacy of Iraqis aged 15–24 between 2000 and 2008, from 84.8% to 82.4%.

Education under the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraqi Kurdistan in northern Iraq faces many problems. There is a large number of people who have "fake and bogus awards like MAs, PhDs and professorial titles". Loyal political party members with fake university titles hold "high official ranks from ministries to university chancellors, deans of colleges, general managers, administrators, supervisors and school headmasters". Critics state that education in Iraqi Kurdistan is "overshadowed by political rivalry, media propaganda, fake patriotism, nationalist sentiments and party affiliation".