Here is the contribution of a colleague of mine, Laith Al-Khalifa, a
former staff member of the Faculty of Humanities, the Dept. of English,
Reforming the Higher Education in Iraq
We shall attempt to describe the inner content of higher education in
Iraq. This attempt should undoubtedly refer to and depend on the
infrastrtucture of education in the country. This infrastructure hinges on both the school, on the one hand and on the society and its small block, the family on the other hand.
The school system and education in general, have suffered greatly from
the unwise and destructive policies of the previous regime in Iraq. Then
the 12-year economic sanctions led Iraq in all its sectors and
departments and their services to deteriorate drastically making Iraq the least developing Arab and third world country in expenditure on higher education, let alonethe elementary and secondary schools.
University professors, government employees, poets,sculptors,artists
and private persons` lives and careers were influenced and almost
determined by those outside forces of the general economic system and state programs.The economic sanctions and governmental mismanagement and corruption deteriorated the situation even more. In addition, the teachers and other governmental employees lost their advantages and no profession could save them from poverty and need.
Today, even more than before, unemployment caused by and accompanying the deteriorating security , the loss of peace and harmony in the society caused by the terrorists and the occupation forces changed the lives of the people in Iraq into hell. The majority of the children remain illiterate and can not attend school. Higher education is not exempted. Students face harrasment, especially females forced to wear hijab .Loss of security, scarcity of income, life - threat by internal and external forces and what not have deprived thousands of students from normal university life.
There have been a noticeable lag in the life essentials in all walks of life.
Elementary education thirty or forty years ago was much better than it
is today. To generalize broadly, what the Iraqi system gains in
centralized standards as against European diversity is often lost through the vast gap between program and practice. Long before the Iraqi higher education and the lower education systems were politicised ( and even today it seems to be the same ) there appeared ( in the sixties and seventies of the last century ) so attractive and well developed in school legislations and ministerial decrees.
What is drastically needed today
1. Reforming the Iraqi educational system and eradicating corruption in
all its forms; financial,educational and manpower.
2. Making the educational system a free - zone, free from political and
religious dogmas and should be run by nuetral and open-minded
3. Reforming the university systems and adopting highly developed
curriculum and syllubuses in cooperation with the European, American and Arab universities. Highly specific curricula should recruit both the human resorces and the day-to-day subjects. New books should be introduced in physics, mathematics, human sciences and languages.
4. Teaching need to be supported by teotorials, independent learning,
paper writing and computarized learning.
5. Parent- teacher meetings can pave the way for understanding and
overcoming student-teacher problems at the university and at elementary
6. Immediate and widespread benifits can ensue practical application of
the students knowledge in practicing at governmental and private offices,
companies, firms and factories. Such a step will bring about
integrating the universities and the society.
7. Establishing and founding databases at universities and research
centres in all fields of study. First the need arises for computer and
databases in the following fields:
a. Contemporary and historical '' area study'' databases. Integration
into language and area studies teaching can have great potentialities by
using newspapers, news agencies and other media channels.
b. Material databases- databases can depend on cooperation among
language teachers and language teaching aids and materials.
c. Language databases and dictionaries. Incorporating encyclopedia,
dictionaries and language corpus and studies into the text or teaching
d. Business databases . Databases can be powerful tools for storage,
retreival and manipulation of the data in language work in different
However these are only few observations and recommendations hastily
written for reforming and developing the higher education and the educational system in Iraq. A full and prolonged study on such a phenomenon needs to be authentic and practical as much as possible.
With best regards