Gaps in formal education in Iraq

The formal education system in Iraq has been significantly disrupted over the last several years as a result of conflict and displacement. Damaged infrastructure, limited investment in teachers and curriculum, ongoing waves of displacement, and nationwide Covid-19 school closures have had a detrimental impact on access to and quality of education. Learning levels in Iraq are among the lowest in the region and a lack of education is consistently the top protection risk for Iraqi children.

A generation of young people now face an increasingly uncertain future in Iraq, particularly among the most vulnerable that include refugee children, displaced children, and children with disabilities.

To address these gaps, the Education Consortium of Iraq (ECI) - comprising the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Save the Children (Save), Mercy Corps (MC), and Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) - conducted a research study to better understand the barriers in the provision of inclusive and equitable formal education. Data collection encompassed a school infrastructure assessment, 39 key informant interviews with local and international NGO and UN staff, community leaders and Ministry of Education (MoE) and Departments of Education (DoE) staff, as well as 41 focus group discussions with teachers, parents and children across Anbar, Diyala, Dohuk, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Salah ad-Din governorates.

The report found that teacher training has been insufficient as teachers have not had any training in pedagogy or lesson planning in more than 60 percent of schools in Anbar, Duhok, and Kirkuk. Teacher recruitment has also lulled as the student to teacher ratio averages 32 to 1 across governorates. In Ninewa, there is one teacher for every 57 students, which greatly impacts the quality of learning.

The report also found:

  • More than half of schools surveyed need to be rehabilitated to meet basic hygiene and safety standards
  • More than 90 percent of schools surveyed in Kirkuk lack drinking water
  • 92 per cent of schools lacked ramps or elevators for children with disabilities
  • 3.6 per cent of students dropped out of the 2020-2021 school year, which amounts to thousands leaving their education

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